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Five Will Head to Great Britain on UK Fellowships

Award winners of prestigious fellowships represent diverse academic interests

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June 3, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold
Fellowship recipients
The Office of Fellowships honored UK winners and more than 240 students who received fellowships and scholarships this academic year. Photo by Jim Ziv

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Seniors Jenny Mills and Cindy Solomon will head for Great Britain on prestigious United Kingdom fellowships after they graduate from Northwestern University in June. And they’ll be in good company. Five Northwestern women are bound for the UK as winners of Fulbright awards, a Marshall Scholarship and a Whitaker International Fellowship.

What’s striking about this group is not just its size but also the array of interests it represents, according to Elizabeth Pardoe, associate director of the Office of Fellowships. Those diverse interests include biomedical engineering, the literature of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, climate science, creative advertising and theatre production and playwriting.

A reception last week presented by the Office of Fellowships honored the five UK winners and more than 240 undergraduate and graduate students who to date have received fellowships and scholarships this academic year. Their mentors also were recognized.

“There is no cookie cutter template of a successful British scholarship winner,” Pardoe says. “It’s the diversity of talent and interests at Northwestern that makes our students and alumni so successful in these competitions.”

Take Fulbright student Sarah Rose Graber. Graber, who has been immersed in the world of theatre since graduating in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Communication, essentially designed her own Fulbright program.

Between her junior and senior year at Northwestern, she traveled around the world on a grant from the Chicago Circumnavigator’s Club to explore the ways artists use theatre as an agent for social change. From the slums of Nairobi to the streets of Buenos Aires, Graber learned first hand about the immense power of art.

Since graduation, she has produced, performed and directed plays in numerous Chicago theatre companies and has taught storytelling, children’s theatre, theatre movement and other topics to students young and old. In the process, she has become an enthusiasts of devised theatre -- a form of collaborative theatre in its infancy in the U.S. but more commonly practiced in the UK.

In devised theatre, directors, playwrights, actors, designers and others work together to create a piece of theatre. This collaborative style builds community among its creators and re-invents and reinvigorates the play experience, Graber says.

Her Fulbright will take her to the National Theatre of Scotland to work on a devised play; to London, where The Shunt, a small collective of artists creates large-scale performances in unexpected locations; to Manchester’s Quarantine Theatre, to learn how to infuse ethnographic research into performance; and to a remote part of Cornwall, where Kneehigh Theatre specializes in site-specific performance and innovative, accessible forms of theatre.

“I’ve created my own devised theatre MFA program, and will return to Chicago with an arsenal of tools and performance experiences that will enhance my work as an artist and educator,” Graber says.

Soon-to-graduate senior Jenny Mills will study at the University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh as a Marshall Scholar in her efforts to help solve one of science’s most urgent problems -- climate change.

A triple major in earth and planetary science, chemistry and integrated science, Mills firmly believes that today’s scientists require deep knowledge of multiple fields. Northwestern’s highly selective, rigorous Integrated Science Program has given her coursework and research experience that is equivalent to the first year of graduate school in the major sciences.

Working at the forefront of climate science, Mills plans not only to augment our understanding of the ways human action changes global geochemical cycles but also to collaborate with policymakers and promote environmental consciousness on a global level. Her advisor Brad Sageman, professor and chair of earth and planetary sciences, is confident her contributions will be “very significant.”

Senior Cindy Solomon will study for a master’s degree in bioengineering at the University of Nottingham as a Whitaker International Fellow upon graduating in June with a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

For good reason, medical devices are Solomon’s passion. Legally blind without corrective lenses, she unwittingly perceived the world quite differently from her peers for the first 10 years of her life. A pair of glasses changed her life.

“We tend to take glasses and contact lenses for granted,” Solomon says. “But I’ve been really struck by how these simple but elegant pieces of technology can change people’s lives.” Her ultimate career goal is to help people with more serious disabilities overcome them with easy-to-use medical devices.

As one of 12 fourth-year engineering students in Northwestern’s Murphy Institute, Solomon already has considerable research experience that will help her accomplish that goal.

Priyanka Bose double majored in English and international studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and earned a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) from Medill before graduating from Northwestern in 2011. As a Fulbright student, she will study creative advertising at Falmouth University.

“As a writer and media enthusiast, I want to be a part of the group of content creators who essentially are in the business of developing pop culture,” Bose says. Her Falmouth research project will focus on “transmedia storytelling,” which integrates the use of old and new media to tell a single connected narrative. Think of Proctor and Gamble’s extraordinarily popular 2010 Old Spice campaign, “The man your man could smell like,” she says.

At Northwestern, Bose particularly enjoyed working toward the IMC certificate with what she calls “its mix of psychology, pop culture and, for all intents and purposes, functional storytelling.” Since graduating from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, she has worked in marketing, overseeing the advertising, sourcing, production and product development programs of the Bradford Group, a collectibles company.

Veronica Benduski, a sophomore majoring in English and international studies in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will participate in the Fulbright Summer Institute at the University of Exeter from July 13 through Aug. 10.

The Summer Institute includes a “Fulbright Week,” in which participants explore issues of sustainability, the environment and leadership before taking three weeks of classes of their own choosing. Benduski, a Brady Scholar at Northwestern, will study the literature of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

The selective Brady Scholars Program is designed for students who seek a deeper understanding of ethical, social and political questions and who want to broaden their understanding of society by spending time in another country.

Benduski, whose first language is Polish, has an avid interest in cultures, travel and international issues, and hopes her love of languages will play a role in her future --whether in diplomacy, publishing or translation.

Topics: People, University