The Graduate Studies Advisory Board in Arts & Sciences has supported recruitment fellowships during the past five years for prospective students of exceptional ability and promise. These awards have allowed many departments and programs in Arts and Sciences to recruit top-notch scholars from a variety of intellectual backgrounds. For its recipients, the two-year fellowship can offer the freedom to pursue full-time coursework without external employment or debt, enable travel to conferences and symposia, or simply make the transition to graduate life at the College more feasible. As has been true of their predecessors, this year’s cohort brings not only a diverse array of academic interests, but a shared enthusiasm to pursue them here at William and Mary.
Lisa Sparks Carpenter received degrees in English and History from Michigan State University, and is beginning the MA/Ph.D. track in the W&M American Studies program. Her prior archival and curatorial work includes positions held at the Michigan Historical Center and the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York. Already, her experiences at William and Mary are building upon this background. For Professor Susan Kern’s graduate seminar in public history, Carpenter is designing a program that will teach visitors to Colonial Williamsburg about the banjo’s roots in African-American culture. “Having practical experience along with my academic work is important to me,” she explains. Carpenter is also starting work on her Master’s thesis, which will examine the modernist qualities of the mid-twentieth-century American folk music revival, concentrating specifically on the fingerstyle guitarist John Fahey.
The other first-year fellowship recipient is Jean McIntyre, who comes to William and Mary from Bates College where she double-majored in Mathematics and Physics. As an undergraduate, McIntyre served as a teaching assistant and co-authored a paper for the journal Physical Review (William and Mary users can read it here). She was also a member of the Varsity softball team for four years and captained the team in her senior year. For her senior thesis, McIntyre combined her academic and extracurricular interests by developing an original C++ computer program that enabled her to analyze the differential equations of softball pitches. After completing her Computational Science degree, she intends to seek work as a researcher or computer programmer in business or industry.
While the 2010-2012 honorees are just beginning their graduate careers, Meagan Pitluck is immersed in her second year in the Computational Operations Research (COR) program. A 2009-2011 fellow, Pitluck is currently at work on a capstone project that she hopes to pursue with contacts at NASA. “I remain very excited about every aspect of the COR program,” she writes, and “cannot express how grateful I am to be a fellowship recipient.” Last year, Pitluck’s award funds allowed her to attend the 2009 Winter Simulation Conference in Austin, TX, and to develop a community tutoring program in mathematics here in Williamsburg. She spent her 2010 summer as a student scholar at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and notes that this internship piqued her interest in pursuing an applied research position after graduation.
Meagan Pitluck’s development as a scholar and a professional, like those of the fellowship recipients who preceded and follow her, demonstrates the mutual value of the award to William and Mary and its graduate student population. The continued success of this program can be ensured by interested alumni and friends who choose to contribute online.