Earlier this year, the director of Yale’s International Education and Fellowships Program, Catherine Hutchison, said she expected at least 20 applications for the new Kingsley Fellowships. She ended up getting 93.
The Kingsley Trust Fellowships is a family of five fellowships — now in its first year — sponsored by the Kingsley Trust, also called the Scroll and Key Society. The trust gives $5,000 each to five sophomores to explore diverse avenues of summer research.
Sophomores Savaria Harris, Molly Worthen, Jennifer Stock, Martha Lovejoy and Susannah Rutherglen are the first Kingsley winners.
Harris, who won the Maynard Mack Fellowship, will spend the summer studying religion in Cuba. She plans to analyze how Cubans assimilate Islam, Christianity and African religions into their lives.
Harris said she unexpectedly got interested in this topic. While searching for a book on Costa Rica at the Yale Bookstore, she accidentally knocked a Cuba travel guide off the shelf.
“When I bent down to pick it up, it was flipped open onto this page with an article entitled, ‘Santeria: Cuba’s Real Religion,'” she said. “The article was so interesting, I ended up sitting down on the floor in the bookstore aisle to read it.”
Harris is not the only one with an unusual story. Worthen, winner of the A. Bartlett Giamatti Fellowship, will spend her summer in Alberta, Canada, studying and living with the Old Believers, an obscure Russian Orthodox sect.
Worthen said she became interested in the topic when her advisor mentioned the sect in passing.
“I went home, piddled around online, read some very shoddy Encarta summaries and was hooked,” Worthen said.
Worthen, who is a Yale Daily News staff columnist, plans on staying with an old woman who is an Old Believer in a mobile home with no telephone.
Adding to this list of sophomore scholars is Lovejoy, who will work in Croatia with a non-profit organization that helps internally displaced women. She also plans to study the Croatian language.
Lovejoy, who won the Dean Acheson Fellowship, was motivated by the traumatic stories she heard while working at a refugee clinic at the Harvard Law School.
“I read torture accounts, news stories of assassination and persecution,” Lovejoy said. “I think it is impossible to be exposed to stories like that and not crave action afterward.”
Rutherglen, who also won a Maynard Mack Fellowship, will study the concept of light in Venitian paintings and architecture at both the University of Virginia and in Italy. She will also study Italian.
“I’m interested in Venice because there is a very interesting conversation between the physical fact of the city and its art,” Rutherglen said. “The whole city is filled with surfaces that are permeable to light, and that led Venetian painters to invent ideas about ‘light’ and ‘color’ that we tend to take for granted today.”
Stock, winner of the Cole Porter Fellowship, will spend the summer at Indiana University studying music composition and completing a musical. She will travel to Rome and Pavia to gather material for her next composition, an opera based on “The Consolation of Philosophy” by the Roman author Boethius.
These five students will be participating in diverse activities, but Hutchison said there were commonalties among the winning applicants.
“They had very well formulated proposals — very creative proposals, proposals for which they were admirably suited,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison said the students were also “well prepared” to execute their plans.
“They had the preparation, the language, the work in that kind of area, acquiring skills,” she said. “Most importantly, they were venturing into a new area — theirs is not duplicated work.”
Hutchison said the students won because their proposals mixed creativity and adventure.
The sophomores said they are looking forward to a summer of excitement.
“The Old Believers think I represent the anti-Christ,” Worthen said. “It’s going to be a great summer.”