Record Number of Magellan Students Embark on Summer Journeys

Created: June 10, 2015
Last Updated: July 17, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (June 10, 2015) – A group of 68 Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students will complete Magellan Projects this summer in 35 countries and in a variety of unique areas of study.

The 2015 group is the largest group of Magellan Scholars to date, and received more than $170,000 in total scholarship funding to pursue scientific, cultural and historic research, ecological and religious studies, internships in business, political science, health fields and more.

“What makes the Magellan Project so unique is that students pursuing a Magellan create these experiences themselves from beginning to end, with the support and guidance of faculty and staff advisors,” said Tyler Tenney, coordinator of co-curricular innovation at W&J. “Magellan Scholars are not told what or where they must study or intern, but are rather told to ‘write your own story.’”

The Magellan Project, one of W&J’s signature programs, was established in 2008 and provides scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships that extend liberal arts learning outside the classroom.

Projects of the 2015 group include: Linguistics and the Business of Art (Elizabeth Bean ’18, Uruguay; Surfing and Sports Medicine (Elizabeth Klock ’18, Hawaii; Wildfire Management Techniques (Patrick Frederick ’17, Australia); Study of Contemporary London Theatre and Film (Amiti Sharma ’17, United Kingdom); The Evolution of Crimes Against Humanity (Abigail Kunkel ’16, Germany and Poland); and Great Barrier Reef Conservation and Sustainability (Zachary Fredericks ’16, Austrailia) among numerous others. A full list is available on the Magellan Recipients & Projects web page.

Completing a Magellan often leaves a personal, as well as an academic, impression on students.

W&J junior Tina Lee, a cell/molecular biology major on the pre-health track, is stepping away from scientific research for the summer to study culture in China.

“I have always been intrigued by culture, linguistics, and narrative, which inspired this trip half-way across the world,” said Lee, whose project is “Culinary Delights Across Chinese Provinces.”

Lee said that as an Asian-American growing up in small suburban town, she became a strong believer in cultural integration and experiential learning, valuing skills like flexibility and adaptability.

“I chose China as my first cultural research endeavor, partly for self-reflection, but mostly because the People’s Republic of China is one of the most underrepresented, misinterpreted nations in the eyes of western society.”

The Magellan Project is designed to allow students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply that knowledge in an intellectually challenging way that reflects their passions and talents.

“Magellan allows students to see themselves as global citizens who are ready to be successful, curious, lifelong learners,” Tenney said. “The College, in turn, benefits from students returning from their projects with fresh perspectives in a variety of subject domains, contributing to class discussions, and increasing global networking opportunities.”

Tenney said he tells students pursuing a Magellan project that they will return as a “changed person, a more mature, self-confident, and open-minded individual. The experience helps prepare students to set aside fear of the unknown, he said, and continue pursuing their passions with confidence, both at W&J and in their future careers.

“At the end of this journey, I hope to share the untold story of China’s fluidity, resilience, and ethnic diversity, all while exploring the origins of my own culture and pushing my limitations,” Lee said. “I can never fully express the depth and beauty of China through photos and blog entries, but I hope readers will gain insight from my experiences, even if it’s behind the light of a computer screen.”

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.

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