More than 30 Knox College students undertook internships, community service, or other research and creative work with the help of Mellon Experiential Learning Fellowships.
The Fellowship is designed to provide first-generation and income-eligible students with financial assistance in order to gain valuable experience in a high-impact experiential practice. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the award provides up to $3,000 to defray costs for students, providing them with the opportunity to participate in such transformational learning experiences.
Sara Kitsch, director of the Gerald and Carol Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, highlighted how the grant provides more than just academic engagement. "This type of opportunity allows students to grow not only as students, but as individuals, as the process encourages the kind of preparation, engagement, and reflexive thinking that is essential to being successful throughout life."
For many students, the fellowship allowed them to explore a longtime interest in greater depth. Salvador Solis '18 is one such student. He spent winter term developing software, but his research began well before his Mellon grant. For years, Salvador has been fascinated with modifications (mods) for the video game Minecraft, which allow a user to create customized objects and experiences within a game. Salvador studied software and mod design over the course of an independent study to prepare for his Mellon research. With the help of experts in the gaming industry and access to professional tools, Salvador was able to code his own Minecraft mod.
Another benefit of the Mellon experience is the specificity that it can lend to otherwise broad disciplines and career paths. Jasmine Artis '19 used her Mellon funding to complete an internship at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. Her experience varied between meetings, reconciliations, financial reports, and other accounting and finance-related tasks. As a student of economics, Jasmine felt that "there are so many paths" available, but she wasn't sure which one was right for her. "This internship definitely helped me narrow down my options and redefined my focus."
On campus, Yuuki Wittmer '18 conducted an independent study analyzing the liquid crystalline properties of copper. At the heart of this research was experimentation and innovation: several times, a reaction wouldn't go as planned, forcing Yuuki to draw from past experiences and the knowledge she acquired in other chemistry courses. "This research has strengthened my problem-solving abilities, as well as the importance of working as a team, and learning from other researchers."
Luba Liubvina '20 is grateful for the doors that were opened by the fellowship. She conducted an intensive study at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG), and spent eight hours a day working with famous glass artists like Suellen Fowler and Hugh Salkind. In her free time, she explored the library collections and attended glassblowing demonstrations. "My ultimate goal as an artist is learning and mastering more materials. CMOG for sure is the best place to learn about glass, and Knox enabled me to go there."