Lingering Effects of WWII Are Course of Study for Magellan Recipient

Created: April 28, 2016
Last Updated: January 16, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (April 28, 2016) — When Brittany Hopkins ’17 embarked on her Magellan Project journey to the Netherlands, she planned to study the country’s poverty level in comparison to that of the United States. But once she got there, she realized her project could have a dual course of study.

The Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) junior worked with professors from the University of Den Haag and volunteered in food banks, churches, and shelters to immerse herself in local culture, learn more about the problem of poverty, and consider possible solutions. She also spent time with one University of Den Haag professor in Normandy, France to witness and research the lingering effects of World War II on veterans, their families and the community.

“My project took on a completely new direction when my host family invited me to stay at their beach house on Utah Beach, just feet away from German bunkers, for the 71st D-­Day memorial,” said Hopkins, a business administration major and an entrepreneurial studies minor from Tulare, Calif. “I spoke to United States veterans who shaped the world by risking their own young lives to restore humanity in Europe. This experience made me confident that pursuing a career in human and social service is something that I am passionate about.”

Since returning from her Magellan, Hopkins learned how important is to continue to share stories in order to inspire others.

“Not only has this experience helped me by expanding my horizons, it has truly sparked academic curiosities in me about history. Many World War II veterans that I have talked to upon return from my Magellan truly believe that the youth today do not care about history and what our country and people have sacrificed to shape the world today,” said Hopkins. “I believe that the best way to honor these men is to continue to share their stories. Moving forward, I would like to urge my peers to pursue learning new things that you never thought would fascinate you.”

Hopkins plans to pursue a career in nonprofit work, and hopes to create her own foundation one day.

“Attending countless parachute jumps and ceremonies to honor veterans returning made me come to an eye opening conclusion about my Magellan project … If one anti-semitic person could see the injustice that the Nazi’s brought to Jews [and] if they could feel the power of mourning for the simple loss of life, then I believe humanity has hope,” she said. “[By] acknowledging that poverty exists everywhere, and that someone in this world needs your help, then maybe we could end the war on hunger. The memories and experiences I have come away with from my Magellan project are immense and beyond anything I could have hoped for. As a student, as a human, I am changed.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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