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W&L Announces Winners of 2012 Johnson Opportunity Grants

Eight Washington and Lee University students have been selected for the spring/summer 2012 Johnson Opportunity Grants. This is the first group of students chosen by the Johnson Program on Leadership and Integrity, which awards 25 to 30 grants each year.

The students will participate in a variety of projects in far-flung locations in the United States and abroad. These range from the Summer Olympics in London to a human rights society in Russia; from a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Palestine to the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

The grants cover living, travel and other costs associated with the students’ proposed activities, which are designed to help them with their future careers and fields of study. The grants vary in amount from $1,000 to $4,500 and are funded as part of the Johnson Program in Leadership and Integrity. The second round of successful applicants will be announced in late March.

  • Isaac Webb, a junior from Waterville, Maine, will intern with Memorial, an international historical-enlightenment human rights and humanitarian society in Moscow, Russia. The society aims to gather statistical information, study memoirs and transcribe oral testimonies to describe the human rights abuses committed under communism. Webb is a history and Russian area studies double major and will use the experience to enhance his Russian language skills and gain hands-on experience of how a non-profit is organized. He began his internship in February while taking classes through Middlebury College’s study abroad program in Moscow. At W&L, Webb is the Overall Student Coordinator for Volunteer Venture, organizing student-led pre-orientation trips devoted to the study of poverty. He also volunteers with Campus Kitchen at W&L and is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
  • Eric Shuman, a sophomore from Black Mountain, N.C., will spend the summer in Bethlehem, Palestine, through the Palestinian Summer Encounter program. He will volunteer with local Palestinian NGOs, stay with a Palestinian family and take academic classes on regional issues as well as the Palestinian dialect of Arabic. The program is run jointly by the Middle East Fellowship, a nonprofit based in the United States, and the Palestinian nonprofit Holy Land Trust. It allows students to experience life in the Palestinian territories in order to better understand the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the everyday effects of the occupation of the West Bank and possible solutions to the conflict. Shuman is a double major in psychology and global politics and is a member of the men’s swimming team at W&L.
  • Christine Pence, a sophomore from Bainbridge Island, Wash., is a biochemistry major with a minor in Poverty and Human Capability Studies. She will intern for the summer as a laboratory assistant for the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) in Seattle, Wash. The institute focuses on diseases prevalent in the third world, including diagnosis and vaccination against leishmaniasis and leprosy. Although Pence will be advised by an IDRI scientist, she will be responsible for leading her own research. Working toward a career in health care, Pence currently volunteers at the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic in Lexington.
  • Colleen Paxton, a sophomore from Paducah, Ky., will work with Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, as part of the OBS Broadcast Training Program. The paid internship places college students in different media positions at the Olympics.¬† Paxton will work in the Olympic Stadium as a general assistant to the logistics manager, performing administrative tasks and helping with the production and distribution of the video feed of the Olympic Games. A business administration major with a minor in mass communications, she hopes to work in the media industry. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.
  • Annelise Madison, a sophomore from Roca, Neb., will spend the summer as a volunteer at Ghana Alliance for Community Transformation (Ghana ACT). She will work alongside members of the local community of Ho, Ghana, to educate and empower local underprivileged youth by teaching math, English, science and computer skills at a primary school. She will also include a nutrition and fitness component. Madison is a Johnson Scholar majoring in political science and is a member of W&L’s women’s cross country team and the women’s track and field team.
  • Emily Comer, a sophomore from Dallas, Texas, will take part in an education-focused summer project at the Ron Clark Academy (RCA) in Atlanta, Ga. Clark is the author of The Essential 55: An Award-winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child (Hyperion Books, 2003). At RCA, he incorporates unusual methods into his teaching, including music, dance, games and drama. Comer will observe classes with RCA students, tour the campus and participate in a variety of in-depth workshops related to the school’s innovative and successful methods. She is majoring in a self-designed interdisciplinary course on literacy and language development and plans a career in teaching or education research. She is also a Burish Intern at Maury River Middle School in Lexington.
  • Kendr√© Barnes, a junior from Omaha, Neb., will participate in a Shepherd Alliance International Internship placement in Buenos Aires, Argentina, through the Experiential Learning Program (ELAP). She will serve in the Children’s Dining Hall and Learning Center, a nonprofit dedicated to providing nutritional and educational assistance to impoverished children in the area. In addition to taking part in structured programs, Barnes will assist with meal preparation, teach English classes, engage the children in recreational activities, instruct them about nutrition and equip them with basic skills related to educational attainment. Barnes is a Spanish and English double major and is a literacy tutor at Waddell Elementary School in Lexington and a member of W&L’s Nabors Service League.
  • Mohamad Shawki Amine, a junior from Adaisse-Marjeyoun, Lebanon, will work on the research project “Bridge Deicing Using Geothermal Energy” in the civil engineering department at Virginia Tech. The project focuses on finding an alternative sustainable way to deice bridge decks instead of using salt and chemicals which reduce the service lives of bridges. Amine will be involved in laboratory and field testing as well as analytical and numerical analyses for geothermal energy applications. He is a major in civil engineering with a minor in mathematics, a member of Engineers Without Borders and president and co-founder of the Muslim Students Association at W&L.

News Contact:
Sarah Tschiggfrie
News Director