NCS Fellowships Give Students Another Way to Explore Current Issues

Fourteen Upper School students spent last summer pursuing their passions and broadening their academic horizons through NCS fellowship opportunities. The students’ independent-study projects brought them to the United Kingdom, Peru, Hawaii, West Virginia, and the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Fellowship recipients then shared their experiences with classmates during Upper School assemblies throughout the fall semester.

Maggie Wang ’19 used the Raiser Environmental Fellowship to study how technology can limit the spread of malaria through genetic modification of the Anopheles mosquito, a main carrier of the disease. Wang grew interested in the topic after reading an article during the Zika virus outbreak about mosquito “gene drives” and their potential to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases.

Lauren Carl '19 joined a team of oceanographers at Texas A&M University who are studying the harmful “red tide” phenomenon. Carl’s Raiser Fellowship research focused on the impact of salinity level and light on algae blooms, and she found that an influx of freshwater makes it easier for algae to grow. As a result, heavy storms can precipitate “red tide” as the runoff moves off the land and into the sea. Carl plans to continue the study of phytoplankton ecology in college.

A third Raiser Fellow, Ilina Gobburu '19, went to Hawaii to learn more about coral reef ecology in Kaneohe Bay, Maui. Through the Coral Reef Ecology Lab at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Gobburu examined the effects of freshwater runoff on the coral reefs. Gobburu said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii” and was thrilled to have the opportunity to pursue research there. All three projects were funded in part through a fellowship established by alumna and current Governing Board member Skye Raiser ’85 that helps students pursue self-designed research in the fields of environmental science, biodiversity, conservation, and the impact of environmental degradation or pollution on human life.

Another fellowship, the Lauren Sarah Hester '87 Fellowship, funds self-designed academic research projects that take place outside the Washington metropolitan area. Two recipients were named last year.

Kate Mabus ’19 traveled to Shepherdstown, W.Va., to learn more about the opioid crisis, a subject that interested her after a friend’s death. She wanted to “understand the epidemic in personal stories” and interviewed a pastor, journalist, and many other community members. At the end of her fellowship, Mabus was invited to write an article for a Shepherdstown newspaper about her findings and the benefits of communication, coordination, and cooperation in solving the crisis. “Uniting is the only way to address the epidemic,” she said to her fellow Upper Schoolers.

The other Hester Fellow, Ellie Bailey ’19, went to Peru to study women’s access to education and how Quechua woman are preserving their culture and language despite many barriers. During her presentation to Upper Schoolers, Bailey passionately said, “It’s in the [Peruvian] constitution that you have the right to get an education in your own language.” Bailey shared that the trip changed her life and helped her to grow socially and emotionally. It also made her want to pursue Latin American studies in college.

Avery Kean ’19 and Esther Eriksson von Allmen ’19 received the Koch Fellowship, which provides for a month of courses at the Oxford Tradition, an academic program of Oxford University. Kean studied social psychology and law and society, while Eriksson von Allmen took courses in critical thinking and immunology.

A fourth NCS fellowship debuted over the summer, the Visual Arts Fellowship, funded by the Parents Association’s Arts Committee. This year, it provided seven students the opportunity to pursue art projects over the summer.

McKenna Dunbar ’19 and Sophia Maguigad ‘21 produced photography collections: Dunbar’s Art in Everyday Life showcased how makeup can be used for self-expression and pride in both individual and communal minority spheres, and Maguigad’s collection focused on nature.

Alyssa Gabidoulline ‘20’s piece Designed Objects explored the relationship between process and product. Olivia Harley '19 used animation for her project, Quick, Let’s Bring These Drawings to Life!, as did Iris Wu ’20 for Folding Beijing. Mika Mathurin ’19 studied calligraphy for her summer project, Taking the Next Step, and Gillian Moore ’20 investigated how illustration and communication connect in The Universal Language.

The fellowships exemplify many goals of NCS's 2018-2023 Strategic Plan: global connections, experiences beyond the classroom, pursuing passions, and deepened relationships among students and committed donors.

Congratulations to all of our incredible fellows on their summer projects and experiences!
    • From left: Kathleen O'Neill Jamieson, Ilina Gobburu '19, Lauren Carl '19, Skye Raiser '85, and Maggie Wang '19.

    • Kate Mabus '19 and Ellie Bailey '19

    • Esther Eriksson von Allmen '19 and Avery Kean '19

    • Iris Wu '20, Olivia Harley '19, McKenna Dunbar '19, Gillian Moore '20, Alyssa Gabidoulline '20, and Sophia Maguigad '21