Magellan Helps W&J Junior Prepare for Career

Created: May 4, 2017  |  Last Updated: September 30, 2021  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (May 4, 2017) - Sometimes, Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students find inspiration for a Magellan Project where they least expect it. Junior Ethan Heller is a prime example of that, finding his idea after having lunch with international mediator and peace prize winner Mary Montague, who lectured on campus last spring, and was in residence at W&J for the Fall 2016 semester.

“My concentration at W&J is in the field of Conflict and Resolution Studies, and when I heard her speak for the first time last year, I was absolutely fascinated by her and her work, so I asked her to lunch,” Ethan said. “We exchanged emails so we could stay in touch.”

His correspondence with Montague put him in contact with the organization that she works for, TIDES Training and Consultancy. The organization works to quell the sectarian issues surrounding the conflict of religion and nationality in Northern Ireland, and specifically focuses on at risk youth.

“After meeting with Mrs. Montague, she helped me gain contact with her organization and with her and Professor [Emeritus Richard] Easton’s help, I was able to build a resume strong enough to get an offer for a summer internship,” Ethan said.

So, Ethan spent his Magellan Project in Belfast Northern Ireland (U.K.). He worked seven days a week in his internship with TIDES. In the office, he conducted demographic research on the areas that TIDES would be operating in, and he was able to see how an organization like this worked from the inside. But, he didn’t always spend his days in the office.

“In the field, I shadowed the professionals as they brought education and community outreach to people of all ages,” he said. “From a seminar on the sectarian nature of flags, to reaching at risk youth through local sports, and even to meeting with local police officials to talk about recent spikes in violence, I ended up being a pretty active shadow for their organization.”

He also conducted some of his own research outside of his work with TIDES. He had their databases at his disposal, which allowed him to broaden his knowledge of the field-tested methods of the conflict and resolution profession, while examining their applicability first hand.

After graduation, Ethan wants to attend law school and plans to practice corporate litigation. In order to handle the interactive relationships in the business world, he will have to be able to handle the different relationships he will come across. He believes Magellan has helped him to do this.

“My training in Northern Ireland, although on a larger scale, gave me first-hand insight into the way people handle and quell conflict, an education I could not have acquired in a classroom,” he said.

Ethan is grateful for the opportunities that the Magellan Project has given him, and he hopes it has opened up doors for his career plans and for his future travels.

“Magellan gave me the opportunity to go to a brand new place and experience a completely different culture. This experience opened my eyes to the true size and scope of the world we live in and has me dreaming for a future of experience and travel in the years to come,” he said.

About the Magellan Project

Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project.

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, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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