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Jessica McIlhenny 2011 Wins Critical Language Program Scholarship

Jessica Mcllhenny 2011 has won the Critical Language Program Scholarship.  A program of the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes overseas in thirteen critical need foreign languages. Mcllhenny will travel to Washington D.C., for orientation and then to Turkey for two months of language classes. The program is the equivalent of taking a year of Turkish. She is the second Ursinus student to win a Critical Language Program Scholarship, Whitney Mayer 2012 learned earlier this year that she will study in China.

 “I will have class at least 20 hours a week and some mandator

y excursions,” she says.  “It’s a very intense and rewarding program where I will be learning, not only in the class room, but almost all the time with the other CLS participants, with my host family, at my learning institute, and with my peer tutor,” says Mcllhenny. “ Being given the opportunity to actually go to Turkey after studying it for so long is really rewarding. It’s going

to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With all the opportunities I will have overseas and when I get back home, I’m so thankful.”

As a Summer Fellow in 2010, Mcllhenny worked with Ambassador Melrose on the Turkish role on the National Security Council. Her Summer Fellows project expanded into a Distinguished Honors Project on Turkish politics. Then Professor Melrose introduced her to several contacts, including UC alumnus Aaron Ranck, who went to graduate school in Turkey.  “Aaron was extremely helpful in answering my questions, giving me resources, and sending me articles that would interest me. He also told me about the CLS program and encouraged me to apply if I was serious about learning Turkish. After studying Turkish politics that summer, I knew I wanted to continue studying this country and eventually learn the language,” says Mcllhenny.

The program provides for additional costs such as extra meals, local transportation, and travel to and from the host country. “It’s a really amazing experience with everything they provide and all the education I will be receiving,” she says. The scholarship allows her to pursue a passion for Turkish language and culture that began when she was in high school. During her freshman year at Ursinus, she took Middle Eastern History. And when she went abroad to France, Mcllhenny had an internship with a research-based institute and had to submit a research paper at the end of the semester. “I wrote about some of the European Court of Human Rights cases that focused on the veiling of Muslim women – one of which was Leyla ┼×ahin v. Turkey.  When it was time to think about Summer Fellows, I knew that I wanted to work on something that allowed me to explore Turkey more in-depth. I was fascinated by how the Turkish government seemed to play more of an international role in the world. I explored for Summer Fellows and for my distinguished honors project why it has taken on a more international role within global politics.”

Her experience studying Turkish politics at Ursinus and participating in the CLS program have shaped her goals. “Going to Izmir, Turkey, this summer is a great next step to take after studying this country for a year,” she says. “Learning the language will be a great tool for me to use to expand my studies of the country. I’m hoping to come back from Turkey and getting more involved with the Turkish community in Philadelphia. Hopefully, I’ll start a book club in Philadelphia when I return that focuses on Turkish literature, history, and culture.” By K.C. 


East Asian Studies Alum Working in Japan for Abercrombie and Fitch

Dan Nichols 2008 is an East Asian Studies major and fluent in Japanese. He was hired at Abercrombie and Fitch in June 2008. “I poured my heart into the job,” he says.

 Eventually, he was recognized as a potential candidate for the Tokyo store and in July of 2009 was approved for the job. “It was a dream come true,” says Nichols, who became an assistant manager for Abercrombie’s store in Tokyo where he headed a team of four additional assistants and a staff of 170 part time employees.  Nichols recently transferred to the Western side of Japan to a city called Fukuoka, where a new A&F Store opened. “I have since been promoted and in charge of the Overnight department,” he says.

Two UC Students Accepted into Competitive Teach for America Program

The influential Teach for America has accepted Ursinus students Robyn Clarke and Alexandra Wilson into its program which works to close the achievement gap in schools for students living in low-income communities.

Wilson, a Politics major and Education and Film Studies minor, will be teaching in Jacksonville, Fla. for two years. She will be the primary teacher for an elementary education class and will attend a summer course at Chicago Institute where she will practice effective teaching strategies..

“The educational injustice in Florida often gets overlooked, and I feel it needs to be confronted,” says Wilson. “I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.” Wilson will be the primary teacher for an elementary education class and will be attending a summer course at Chicago Institute where she will undergo five weeks of intense training in order to practice effective teaching strategies. “I applied for Teach for America because I truly believe that education inequality is one of the biggest injustices in our society and must be stopped,” she says. “No other program offers as comprehensive a plan or as many opportunities to do so, and I knew joining TFA was my opportunity to give back to society. I have been so fortunate to grow up where education was a right, not a privilege, and I want to make sure that every child is given the same chance at success.”

Clarke, a double major in History and Dance with teacher certification, will teach in New York City, either in an elementary or middle school, most likely in special education. “Teaching in an urban district has always been a goal of mine because I started my education in an urban district,” says Clarke. “Until I was in second grade, I attended school in Elizabeth, New Jersey and Newark New Jersey. I wanted to return to where my love for learning was sparked.” She says she is inspired by the TFA mission to reduce the achievement gap in economically depressed areas.

The Education Department at Ursinus is especially proud, says Education Professor Stephanie Mackler. “We are thrilled to see Teach for America admit two of our education students, Robyn and Alex, because it speaks to the value of the liberal arts approach to education our department provides. Robyn and Alex know more than just the methods of teaching; they understand the broader socio-political context of education, and I’m sure this understanding made them strong candidates for TFA and will enable them to make a significant impact on education policy and practice in the future.”

Clarke and Wilson are looking forward to making a difference in the lives of their students. “I can’t wait to get to know my students and develop individual relationship with them.” – Kaitlyn Ott 2013

Business Major Ray Clarke Takes His Bike Share on the Road

It’s one thing for a student to start a club or program on campus. It’s quite a different challenge to take that program and turn it into a business. Senior Ray Clarke is doing just that, taking the Ursinus Bike Share on the road.

At least two other area colleges have signed on. This week on his spring break he is pedaling the pavement visiting colleges with the goal of getting at least six additional schools to sign on. A Business and Economics major and Sociology minor, Clarke hopes to visit another 40 schools by December. He learned to file non-profit papers and through his coursework understands what he has to make in profit to exceed his start-up costs.

In 2008 Clarke and Laura Ng, Class of 2009, created the Ursinus Bike Share, the second in the country at the time. Ursinus students embraced it: some 200 signed up, making it one of the largest clubs on campus. Clarke believes the high interest may have been due to students’ desire to decrease fuel emissions by avoiding driving cars on short trips. The Ursinus Bike Share allows students to purchase bikes at a discounted rate if they would like a bike for longer than 24 hours in the upcoming year. “Bike share has grown to be something we are proud of,” he says. “I thought other colleges could benefit.”

Clarke, of Glenolden, Pa., had been working at a bike shop since Junior year of high school. “I have always been interested in mechanics and business. I began working for myself when I was in the eighth grade doing small handy man jobs. I saw an opportunity to work with Ursinus Bike Share in its beginning stages and jumped.”

Helping the business is classmate Liz Hooper of Columbia, Pa. They plan to present the business plan during the campus Celebration of Student Achievement (COSA) April 13. The project fulfilled the college’s Independent Learning Experience (ILE) requirement.

Bikes at colleges get a lot of wear and tear. Although Ray is something of a mechanic, not everyone has that ability. To help them he designed a training program and provides an instruction manual so that students can troubleshoot and fix the bikes themselves.

“You can fix 90 to 95 percent of the problems on your own,” he says. He also includes information on being a sustainable business, down to recycling degreasing rags, and recycling bike parts. He personally will oversee the new programs at other campuses for a year. He also provides a log book and management program.

“I have learned a great deal about what it takes to set up and run a company,” he says. “I’m glad I started something in college because there are great minds here and you can bounce ideas off people, ideas that can better the community.” -- By W.G., photo by Joshua Krigman 2011

At Work on Renewable Energy

Katlyn Lawver 2013 spends her summers installing renewable energy systems including solar PV and thermal, geothermal, radiant floor and wind energy systems. She even built a solar powered golf cart with her father, Allen, at his company in Schaefferstown, Pa. “The golf cart was originally a very old one that was sitting in our barn that we had used years ago,” says Lawver. “It’s a three-Katlyn Lawverwheeled cart with one row of seats that comfortable seat two people. Unfortunately, it required new batteries and the wheels and brakes had to be fixed. The batteries were replaced with high-capacity DC batteries that were hooked up to a solar panel built into the roof. It can still be charged if it needs to be, but even on a cloudy day it charges itself and will hold a charge for at least a day of use.”

Lawver hopes to pursue a career in ecosystem management or a branch of ecology. With Earth Day approaching, she will be working for Sustain UC’s environmental fair. “I would like to introduce the school and the community to some aspects of environmental conservation that they may not have been aware of and to portray it in a fun, interactive way with none of the pressures you might find in a classroom,” says Lawver, an Environmental Studies major. “I've found that if you are interested in a topic it is much easier to learn about it interactively. I also want to show possible prospective students the strength of the school's environmental department and the potential that it has.”

The average consumer has a lot to learn about renewable energy, says Lawver. “It has come very far since most people first starting hearing about it. Renewable energy has the potential to power an entire house with a small system and is not as finicky as most people believe. It can also offer a strong alternative to current energy sources. I have seen many households reduce or even eliminate the carbon footprint of their homes using renewable energy and those living there have the same comforts if not more than a family using conventional energy.” At Ursinus, her courses have helped her explore career possibilities. “My experience at Ursinus has pushed me to challenge my common beliefs and to look at environmental issues from every point of view in order to find a possible solution. This is helpful because I believe many people working in the environmental field today are unable to throw their concrete beliefs to the side in order to look at something differently to see if maybe there was something they missed.” -- KC
Photo by Joshua Krigman 2011


Inside the United Nations

Ursinus students took part in a historic moment recently when members of the United Nations Security Council met with several hundred students from colleges and high schools around the world to exchange views on the major global issues of their generation.

“Some of the students travelled from Europe and China for the event while others were from New York City and the surrounding region,” says the Hon. Joseph H. Melrose, professor of International Relations and the College’s Ambassador-in-Residence. He invited Ursinus International Relations students to attend the Dec. 23 event. “The students packed the Economic and Social Council Hall and their presence attracted a great deal of attention from both U.N. staff and other U.N. diplomats who were able to watch on UN TV.”

Melrose, former Ambassador to Sierra Leone and a member of the Ursinus class of 1966, is Acting U.S. Representative for Management and Reform, U.S. mission to the U.N., and was President of the model U.N.

“This experience was amazing,” says Carolyn Smith 2011, who plans to attend graduate school for International Relations and work for an international nongovernmental organization to promote human rights. “The students at Youth Day were able to listen to members of the U.N. Security Council discuss issues that students brought to the table. Countries like China, Japan, the United States and Lebanon expressed their views on international peace and security problems such as the situation in North Korea, shortage of food and water supplies in war zones, and the Iranian nuclear program,” says Smith, an International Relations and French double major from Harrisburg, Pa. The three most pressing problems for her generation, Smith believes, are nuclear weapons, global climate change and terrorism.

“It was pretty cool to be in a place where you know that 192 states meet to talk about world problems,” says Tim Blaine 2012, who is from Alexandria, Va. “It was my first time at the U.N. and a little different than what I expected. I was waiting for this huge, grandiose hall with a bunch of flags. It was pretty normal though, at least around the Security Council,” says Blaine, who plans to pursue a career in the military.

“One highlight was probably a question one young girl asked who was born in China but immigrated to the U.S. and is now a citizen,” says Blaine, a political science major with a minor in history and international relations. “She asked what the U.N. was going to do about the North Korean "problem" a day after they had an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the North Korean artillery strikes against South Korea. All of the delegates looked at each other and said they would come back to that question.”

Blaine thinks the major problems facing the world are terrorism and nuclear proliferation. “Terrorist organizations getting their hands on nuclear weapons is the most pressing and dangerous thing to me,” he says. “The UN is an important institution where states participate in diplomacy and discuss the world's problem.”

Alanna Coyle 2011, an International Relations major from Fairfax County, Va., appreciated the chance to see “inside the Security Council and some of the other rooms where the different bodies of the UN function and to hear the representatives views on different issues that our generation will face when it comes to ensuring peace and security on an international level.”

Jessica McIlhenny 2011 says it was interesting to “be a part of something that brought together the whole world’s youth… to create a dialogue among the world and get us to start thinking of problems and concerns that we, as a world, will have to take on as future leaders.”

International Relations Major Whitney Mayer '12 to Live in China

A seasoned traveler, Whitney Mayer 2012 has been to England, France, Wales, Ireland, Netherlands, and Belgium. And this summer the Pittsburgh native will add a new name to the growing list of nations she has the good fortune to explore. Mayer was recently awarded the Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. State Department to study in China for the summer. She leaves in June.

“I’m not sure where I will live yet,” says Mayer. “It could be an apartment, dorm, or with a host family.” The announcement of her scholarship is so new that even the region where she will be living is to be determined. Choices include Beijing, Shanghai or Nanjing. “I’m very excited but nervous about adjusting to aspects such as the food and environment,” she says. The program includes a pre-departure course and then an intensive summer of studying Chinese language. Mayer, who is International Relations major with a Biology and Chinese minor, says she hopes to gain more fluency during the experience. “After graduation I plan to go to law school and I’m interested in working for the World Health Organization or perhaps becoming a patent attorney.”

Mayer learned about the prestigious scholarship from Greg Weight, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. “She has worked very hard to become proficient in Chinese, supplementing her work at Ursinus by attending the renowned Middlebury Language School last summer, which features complete language immersion,” says Weight. “The Critical Language Scholarship will provide her with an invaluable opportunity to continue that immersive experience in either Beijing or Shanghai for eight weeks this summer, with at least 20 hours a week of intensive language training. Whitney eventually would like to develop Chinese language programs in American schools, particularly in underserved populations,” he says. “It is apparent that Whitney seeks to serve and to bridge both cultures.” Another Ursinus student, Jessica McIlhenny, is an alternative for the same scholarship program to Turkey. -KC