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Nineteen students are engaging in another year of Lafayette’s distinctive intellectual community in the McKelvy House Scholars program.

Since 1962, the McKelvy program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Weekly Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas that often continue long after the meals are over are the hallmark of the program; several Wednesday dinner discussions took place last semester as well. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. The program birthed a second intellectual community this school year, the Reeder Scholars.

Katie Thompson ’09 notes, “McKelvy helps everyone at Lafayette get closer to the ideal of what a college can be and what a liberal arts education should give you. Everyone who lives in the house is deeply involved with numerous projects on campus, making Lafayette and Easton better places through their initiatives with all kinds of different clubs and interests.”

McKelvy House was built in 1888 on High Street overlooking the Delaware River, three blocks from campus. Designed by McKim, Mead, and White, the home was built for John Eyerman, a faculty lecturer in mineralogy from 1888-91. It was bought by Lafayette Trustee Francis G. McKelvy and donated to the College by his heirs in 1960.

Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Spector and Rick Santorum have announced that McKelvy House has been granted $250,000 for renovation as part of the state’s efforts to preserve Pennsylvania’s rich cultural and historical heritage.

Vijay Krishnan ’07 is one of the many McKelvy residents spending another year in the program.

“I am returning to the McKelvy House because it has given me opportunities to do things and meet people that I would not have been able to do unless I was part of such a program,” he explains. “This includes getting to meet Rev. Desmond Tutu in New York, watching [documentary filmmaker] Michael Moore, and getting a one-on-one with Sekou Sendiata.”

Jesslyn Roebuck ’06 returned to McKelvy because “I enjoyed the people, the conversation, and the house as a whole. Opportunity for discussion and intelligent conversation just seems to seep through the baseboards and wood frames of the house, igniting endless thoughts and questions.”

“Through this community of incredibly smart and interesting people, I have expanded my college experience,…” says Kaydence Cowley ’07. “As a McKelvy Scholar, I am gaining the perspective of different worlds. There was no way I could resist the opportunity to live there again.”

“It was not until I moved into McKelvy that I truly found my niche,” says Jaclyn Smith ’07. “Close friends, stimulating conversations, and fun adventures have all been a product of my stay at McKelvy House and I could not imagine a more fulfilling place to spend the remainder of my time at Lafayette.”

“Being in McKelvy has given me a chance to meet a lot of curious and creative people, many of whom I’ve become very close with. It’s also an exciting living environment; people are always up and about sharing stories,” explains Danielle Pollaci ’06. “The weekly discussions and informal get togethers helped me to get to know people in the house. It’s a challenging environment, and one where all views can be voiced and respected.”

“The McKelvy scholars are great people to be around, and dedicated to intellectually expanding each others’ lives,” says David Myers ’07. “I feel that will greatly enhance my overall experience at Lafayette.”

McKelvy Scholars organize activities such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, as well as events for the campus community. This fall, the group attended the Dalai Lama’s public lecture on “Peace, War, and Reconciliation” at Rutgers University, held events in conjunction with the German Club’s Oktoberfest, toured the West Wing of the White House, hosted a dinner reception for Peter Singer, and organized an annual “celebration of life” festival in memory of Hanne Tischler ’04.

“The value of the McKelvy Scholars program is that it provides a much-needed intellectually stimulating atmosphere for Lafayette students who wish to be challenged outside the classroom,” says Chawne Kimber, assistant professor of mathematics, now in her second year as faculty resident adviser.

Kimber adds that the theme for 2005-06 is “civic action” and the scholars are raising awareness of some key issues in the Easton community.

A special discussion with College President Dan Weiss led by Scopelliti and Niblick focused on Lafayette’s relationship with the Easton community, including businesses and residents, and how the campus can foster communication with them. In addition, the meeting touched upon the role of McKelvy Scholars to encourage all students to engage in intellectual outlets beyond the classroom and research projects.

Roebuck has compiled a list of Easton businesses and posted their information on McKelvy’s blog web site. She also has embarked on a mission to “de-mystify” downtown with a comprehensive online directory, which will be available in the near future.

“These are the motivated go-getters who want to know all about their communities (Lafayette, Easton, U.S., the world) and desire to act to make the world a better place,” Kimber says. “It’s an honor to get to work with these students and help them achieve their goals.”

The McKelvy Scholars program has been featured on the national television program “CBS News Sunday Morning.” A crew from Sunday Morning visited McKelvy House to videotape the students engaging in a Sunday dinner discussion on greed.

The first discussions of this semester have been on Fashion as Expression of Identity, Social Darwinism, Stereotypes, Reading as a Virtue, and Sexuality. Last fall’s topics included Why Do We Care about One Another?, Hugo Chavez, “Slow Food” Movement, Social Groups, Christian Right, Neoconservatism, Blogging, and Value of Performing Arts.

In addition to weekly readings associated with the discussions, scholars read from the following list to bolster the theme of civic action: Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Manual for Activists, by Kimberley Bobo; The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods, by Julia Hill; Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, by Edward Herman; A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World, by Isabel Losada; The Activist’s Handbook, by Randy Shaw; Civic Arousal and In Pursuit of Justice, by Ralph Nader; and MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change.

The seniors in McKelvy House are Briana Niblick (Hatboro, Pa.), a double major in civil engineering and German; Jesslyn Roebuck (Montgomery, N.Y.), a double major in English and international affairs; Richard Lear (Stroudsburg, Pa.), a double major in French and government & law; Joshua Garber (Staten Island, N.Y.), a neuroscience major; Brendan O’Regan (Ringwood N.J.), a double major in government & law and anthropology & sociology; Nicholas Scopelliti (Throop, Pa.), a philosophy major; and Danielle Pollaci (Trenton, N.J.), a double major in English and international affairs.

The juniors are Haotian Wu (Suzhou, China), a double major in physics and mathematics; Michael Werner (Neenah, Wis.), a double major in biology and geology; Ryan McCall (Seneca, Pa.), a mathematics major; Jaclyn Smith (Saugus, Calif.), a double major in psychology and English; Carina Fritsche (Columbia, Mo.), a double major in chemical engineering and international studies; Kaydence Cowley (Littleton, Colo.), a mechanical engineering major; David Myers (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), double major in government and law and history; and Vijay Krishnan (Maharashtra, India), a double major in international affairs and economics & business.

The sophomores are George Armah (Accra, Ghana), a mathematics major; Ross Lang (Yardley, Pa.), a double major in biology and English; and Charles Felix (Brooklyn, N.Y.), an A.B. engineering major.

And the first-year student is Katie Thompson (Glenside, Pa.).

Several McKelvy Scholars are present or past participants in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program.

Krishnan has been collaborating with Paul Barclay, assistant professor of history, Joshua Sanborn, associate professor of history, and three other students through Community of Scholars to assemble a comprehensive and searchable database about the characteristics of empires and colonies throughout the course of history.

Garber, working with Elaine Reynolds, associate professor of biology and head of neuroscience, used genetic engineering on fruit flies with epilepsy to determine what part of their brains causes the genetic disorder and investigated whether fruit flies and humans share the same pathways that involve the epilepsy.

Werner studied a set of immune cells that are important in fighting cancer with Robert Kurt, assistant professor of biology, a leading cancer researcher whose work has been supported by major grants from the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense.

Roebuck worked to collect and analyze data in studies of Burma, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Indian state of Bihar, helping a professor, finish his book about human rights.

Pollaci has conducted research with Katalin Fabian, assistant professor of government and law, entitled “Imperfect Equality: The Gender-Disparity of Political Development in Europe.

Lear worked on a textual criticism of the classic French work La Nef des folles, or Ship of Fools, penned by Jehan Drouyn in 1498, with Olga Anna Duhl, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures. He completed a project this January with Fabian, examining five Central European post-communist countries and their response to the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and defines discrimination against women while setting up an agenda for national action to combat it.

Wu constructed computer simulations of experiments that deal with the way xenon atoms attach themselves to the surface of certain metals such as platinum, working with Anthony Novaco, Metzgar Professor of Physics. Recently, he conducted EXCEL research with Barclay on life in Taiwan and Imperial Japan during the mid 19th and early 20th centuries, studying the rule of the Chinese Qing Dynasty and the history of Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples. Results from the project have appeared in Journal of Asian Studies and through Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and will be in a book Barclay will soon publish.

Cowley is conducting biomedical research with Jeffrey Helm, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. She is studying diseased cow aortas in an attempt to better understand, prevent, and possibly cure the illnesses involved.

Niblick continues working with Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, to explore the cultural identity of East Germans residing in an area known as Euroregion Neisse. Niblick has looked at East German, Polish, and Czech literature and regional media to understand how residents of the region are coming to terms with their past and how they are forging a new identity.

In Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations

McKelvy Scholars are involved in a wide variety of activities that enhance their college experience as well as the community.

Cowley conducted research for an orthopedic surgeon during an internship this past summer and completed a paper that she will present at the 52nd annual conference of the Orthopaedic Research Society in Chicago this month. She is a member of the editorial staff of The Marquis literary magazine and the Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP) executive board, junior captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team b, and works part time at the rock wall in the gym. She was a member of Arts Society, College Democrats, and Newman Association.

Amah is a workshop teaching assistant for beginning calculus in the math department, tutors with the Northampton Community Kids Volunteer program, is a DJ for student radio station WJRH 104.9, and plays intramural volleyball. He also works in circulation for the library and in computing services.

O’Regan studied abroad in Rome and recently produced a documentary on International Students Association (ISA) for Qualitative Methods of Research, an anthropology course taught by Dan Bauer, professor of anthropology. The two worked together through a Technology Clinic class last year to create Alumni News for Undergraduates,a publication providing news on students, young alumni, and the alumni resources available to students. O’Regan is also a member of the crew team and was a drum major for the Pep-Band during the spring and fall semesters in 2004.

Myers was president of the mock trial team, plays saxophone in the Jazz Ensemble and is a member of College Democrats, a peer tutor, and a DJ for WJRH.

Pollaci has completed internships with The Empower Program in Washington, D.C. and The American Friends Service Committee in New York City. She has also participated in a study abroad program in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia as part of her semester at American University in D.C. examining peace and conflict resolution. Her academic achievements include the Jean Corrie Poetry Award, International Affairs Honor Society, and the Dean’s List. As secretary of Association of Lafayette Feminists (ALF), Pollaci spearheaded Take Back The Night, a weeklong event that took place last fall to end violence against women. She is also a writing associate (WA), a contributor to The Marquis, and a member of Students for Social Justice (SSJ).

Roebuck took an interim course in Thailand and Myanmar to study economic development there. She was also involved in the revitalization of Lafayette Literary Society, outlining new objectives to invigorate literary activism on campus. She volunteers through Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center and is a member of International Affairs Club, Arts Society, LEAP, and Creating a Healthier, Interesting, and Livable Lafayette (CHILL). Roebuck plays intramural sports, works for recreation services, and serves as a WA and an editor for The Marquis.

Werner has studied coral reefs and caves with Kathryn Schubel, assistant professor of geology and environmental geosciences, and Dru Germanoski, Dr. Ervin R. VanArtsdalen ’35 Professor of geology and environmental geosciences, in the Bahamas. He also worked with Habitat for Humanity through the Alternative Spring Break program, wrote articles for The Lafayette newspaper, plays trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble and lead trumpet in the Brass Ensemble, is a varsity rower, and president of the LEAP.

Garber has been inducted into the Psi Chi national honor society in psychology and serves as a WA.

Smith spent three weeks in Paris studying expatriate writers through one of Lafayette’s interim programs and is studying in Spain this semester. She assisted in the making of the documentary film Towers of Shadow and Light by Andrew Smith, assistant professor of English, and John O’Keefe ’96, director of academic technology services. Smith was one of four students who filmed, catalogued, and helped edit footage that made up the final product, which was included as part of the 2005 First-Year Experience. She is also a WA.

Niblick spent last spring in Austria at Vienna University of Technology, and the 2004 January interim session in Russia and Poland, where she took a Lafayette course, Russia and Poland: Past and Present. She traveled to Germany and Austria in May 2003 to take a special three-week Lafayette course, Germany and Austria: “Green” Europe. Niblick is a member of Society of Women Engineers, ALF, Questioning Established Sexual Taboos (QuEST), German Club, the national German honor society, Lafayette Intercultural Networking Council, and was a trumpet player for the Brass Ensemble and Concert Band.

Lear studied abroad in Africa during an interim trip last year where he learned about the government and politics of Kenya and Tanzania and their efforts to develop their economies without sacrificing wildlife. He has also completed internships in Philadelphia for the American Civil Liberties Union and the New Democrat Network in Washington, D.C. Lear also is a leading member of SSJ, QuEST, and CHILL.

Scopelliti served as president of CHILL and is a member of QuEST, ALF, and German Club.

Wu is president of Wine Society and a member of ISA, Math Club, and Physics Club.

Krishnan is returning to the house this semester after spending a year abroad in Bremen, Germany with Rado Pribic, Edwin Williams Professor of Languages and chair of the international affairs and Russian and Eastern European studies programs, and Dijon, France with George Rosa, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures. He participated in the Fed Challenge Team and is a member of ISA, Asian Cultural Association, SSJ, LEAP, International Affairs Club, and Model UN Club. He also plays for the soccer and cricket clubs.

Thompson is a member of The Journey, a Christian-based group that seeks to “build bridges of understanding” with other faiths. She is also a member of ALF, SSJ, LEAP, College Democrats, German Club, The Lafayette, and sings with the College Hill Presbyterian Church choir.

Categorized in: Academic News