Connect with UC


News & Profiles in the humanities RSS Feed
Recent Grad Gains Foundation for Civic Leadership as a Philly Fellow

Kristin Daly-Barnes will take her Ursinus community-building experiences to Philadelphia. The 2011 graduate will join the next generation of civic leadership when, as a Philly Fellow, she becomes part of the solution to the city’s most pressing social problems.

She credits the Ursinus faculty with her desire to promote change. “The Ursinus faculty illuminated the complexity and interrelatedness of social inequalities,” she said, “sparking my desire to unite my academic pursuits with my concerns for social justice.”

Leadership experiences at Ursinus led to her interest in the Fellows program. “Although I have always had an interest in public service and volunteerism, the Ursinus College Bonner Program cultivated this interest in ways in which I will forever be grateful,” said Daly-Barnes. “The Bonner Program gave me the resources to transform my hobbies and convictions into realistic, sustainable service opportunities, while the Ursinus faculty and staff gave me the guidance and support to fully develop my beliefs and to carry out my ambitions.” The Bonner Program encourages service and leadership, through a special leadership course.

Daly-Barnes, of Bensalem, Pa., graduated in May with a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in Media and Communications. At Ursinus, she was a Summer Fellow, researching punishment in prisons. Her project was expanded as a Distinguished Honors paper in which she integrated academic research and philosophical arguments for a wide scale reform of the American penal system.

Philly Fellows work at Philadelphia non-profit organizations, creating a bridge between the non-profit, college, government and business sectors to strengthen the city’s cultural, educational and social services organizations. They are members of the AmeriCorps*VISTA program and receive a stipend, housing and other awards, as they spend a transitional year between college and traditional employment or continued education.

Daly-Barnes will spend this year as the Development Associate for Students Run Philly Style, which provides marathon training to youths.  Through training with adult mentors, students realize their ability to achieve goals they previously may not have even considered possible, she explained.

Daly-Barnes studied abroad in Florence, Italy and also was a participant in The National Education for Women’s (NEW) Leadership Pennsylvania. She was co-president and co-founder of V-Day at Ursinus College, establishing an official campus organization which planned community dialogues on women’s issues and promoted awareness of violence against females. Daly-Barnes completed domestic abuse counselor training through the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, and was one of five student leaders on the Ursinus Diversity Committee. As a tutor for Acción Comunal Latinoamericana de Montgomery County, in Norristown, Pa., she provided educational activities for Hispanic children from low-income families. She was a member and officer of WeCAN, (We Care About the Nation), and successfully campaigned for cage-free eggs in the campus dining services. She tutored female inmates at Montgomery County Correctional Facility and also was a volunteer at St. Francisvale Home for Small Animals.  Additionally, she was a member of Best Buddies Program, for adults with learning and mental disabilities, and was the project coordinator of the Ursinus College International House.

At Ursinus, Daly-Barnes was recognized with several awards, including the Gundaker Grant Rotary Award for academic leadership and service, the Wagman Prize for demonstration of loyalty to high ideals and the Paisley Prize, for recognition by the Philosophy and Religious Studies departments. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society.

After Philly Fellows, Daly-Barnes has an interest in law school, particularly public policy and nonprofit law.  “Philly Fellows will allow me the opportunity to better understand the complex makings of the nonprofit sector, while also providing a leadership and professional development training curriculum,” she said. -- W.G.

East asian studies alum, Joshua Solomon, returns from Year long fulbright

Joshua Solomon 2008 majored in East Asian Studies with a minor in Japanese and Music. He is studying at the University of Chicago, where he is finishing the second year of a Ph.D. program. After graduating from Ursinus, Solomon left on a yearlong Fulbright Fellowship to Tsugaru, Japan. His research topic was Tsugaru-jamisen, a kind of three-stringed banjo, and the community of people who play it.

This summer, Joshua is traveling to Japan to continue training on the shamisen, and work on a translation of literary critic Nakano Sigeharu for publication. He also begins reading and translating work in folklore studies by Orikuti Sinobu. “I will be shifting over to Yokohama to study at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Studies for the year before heading back to Chicago,” says Solomon. Learning that he is an alternate candidate for the prestigious Blakemore Fellowship this year is “almost a nice feather for my cap.” Stay tuned.

Solomon has been playing in charity concerts, community and school events since leaving Ursinus. View video of Joshua here>

Ursinus Philosophy Major Given Highest Honor

Ursinus sophomore Alex Niedmann was given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to study for a full year at the University of Edinburgh for the 2011-2012 academic term. The Philosophy major and Neuroscience minor was awarded the McFarland Scholarship from The St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. The society awards five scholarships, including only one McFarland scholarship, for students to study at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Glasgow, Universities in Scotland. Candidates from 18 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia region are given a chance to submit a candidate to study at one of the four universities during their junior year of college. The scholarship Niedmann received is the highest honor, and essentially designates Niedmann as the top applicant.

Niedmann, of West Hartford, Conn., enjoys philosophy, and wanted to explore scholarships or study abroad options that would allow him to continue studying philosophy. The philosophy departments in Scotland are among the world’s best, he says, and the prospect of spending a full year studying at a University there is “as attractive intellectually as it is culturally” says Niedmann. Niedmann is looking forward to the many opportunities this experience will offer him, including getting to know his new city. “To find myself feeling at home . .  I would look forward to this aspect of any extended residence abroad," he says.

In applying for this scholarship Niedmann was required to submit a personal statement and attend an interview with the Scholarship Committee of the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. REferring to his personal statement to the scholarship committee, he says, “The Scottish philosophical tradition produced the first inquiries of their kind into the workings and nature of the human mind. The year of immersion supported by this Scholarship affords me the experience of actually being embedded in the physical and cultural context to which my study of the mind owes much of its meaning and shape, a tangible rediscovery of the historical and cultural source of so much of what fundamentally animates my life.” – By Kaitlyn Ott 2013

English Major on her way to a Ph.D. with prestigious CIC Fellowship

Melissa Pankake learns from the past, but is excited about the future. An English major with a passion for the Medieval, Melissa, the recent Class of 2011 Valedictorian from Lebanon Pa, is headed to Princeton University with a prestigious graduate fellowship, one of two each year offered by the Council of Independent Colleges. She will pursue a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in medieval literature.

A student with many interests, Melissa spent her spring break building houses in rural Kentucky. As an active member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Ursinus College Chapel since her freshman year, and current Chapel president, she offered a monthly message and organized programs like an upcoming Interfaith dinner. She is a member of the community service-oriented Upsilon Phi Delta Sorority, participated in Ursinus College Environmental Action events, served on the Center for Writing staff, and worked for the Berman Museum of Art.

Her passion is medieval English. “It pains me that so many people still regard the Middle Ages as a dark age, a black-and-white text full of 'ye's and random extra 'e's,” she says. “The past has so much to teach us about ourselves, and I am grateful for the opportunity to study its vibrant literature more fully.”

Melissa explored the character of Lancelot in the 15th century Arthurian prose Morte D'Arthur as a Summer Fellow in 2010. The research formed the groundwork for an honors thesis on how author Sir Thomas Malory, who was a knight himself, perceived chivalry at the end of the Middle Ages.

“Summer Fellows was probably the hardest thing I have ever done as an Ursinus student, because I wasn't used to working on the same project constantly without activities or classes to break up the work,” she recalls. She learned, she says, about her own creative process, and the importance of pacing.

She just had an article published in the undergraduate journal Proto. Her scholarship from the Council for Independent Colleges and also from Princeton, will cover tuition and expenses, including summer study,

Melissa says her achievements at Ursinus are due in part to supportive parents, and faculty mentor Joyce Lionarons, Professor of English. “She has been my biggest supporter and guide,” Melissa says of her professor. “She has overseen my Summer Fellows project, Honors project, and grad school application process---and I credit her with keeping me sane through all of it.  I wouldn't have had the confidence even to apply for the American Graduate Fellowship if she had not encouraged me to do so.”

Professor Lionarons says that Melissa “is every professor's dream student. She does all the work on time, and then does more:  she can synthesize ideas from previous courses, whether in English or another discipline, and come up with new ways of looking at old issues.  Her writing is superb, and I think that her facility with languages -- she has Latin, Greek, French, and Old English -- allows her to think about Modern English words in both their contemporary meanings and root meanings, giving her writing a depth that most writers attain much later in life, if at all.”

In addition to the faculty mentoring, Melissa said she fell in love with Ursinus during a tour.“I couldn't get it out of my head---I could sense a very close-knit, friendly, almost incubating sort of community that drew me in right from the get-go.  I was also attracted by the phenomenal study abroad program (my experience abroad, by the way, was life-changing).”

The graduate fellowship is funded by a grant from the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation, Witchita Falls, Texas to support two students from small, liberal arts colleges to attend one of a handful of prestigious institutions in the U.S. and United Kingdom.