CHESTERTOWN – Six Washington College students will experience a summer filled with intellectual exploration and adventure made possible by the Comegys Bight Fellows Program. Designed to be wholeheartedly experiential, the 2010 independent research projects include field research on the ghost tour industry, a study of the relationship between military service and political behavior, and an exploration of biracial identity in America.
The Comegys Bight program, conceived and generously sustained by Drs. Thomas and Virginia Collier of Chestertown and administered by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, offers stipends for students to pursue independent projects with the guidance of faculty mentors. The program has served 38 students since its advent in 2003. In some cases, the real-world study experience has changed the course of the student’s intellectual life.
“One of the most exciting things about this program has been seeing how the students’ experiences as Comegys Bight Fellows continue to resonate in their lives throughout college and far beyond,” says Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center. “Past fellows have gone on to study at major graduate schools, and to careers in journalism, book publishing, and teaching. The Comegys Bight program gave them opportunities to integrate scholarly work with real-world experience in ways that they would not have found in the classroom.”
Drawn from a wide range of academic majors, the 2010 Fellows are a diverse and accomplished group:
• Business Management and Sociology double major Melissa Fyock ’11 will explore American culture's fascination with the paranormal through the lens of the ghost tour industry. Her fieldwork will include interviews with tour providers and participants in four historically rich communities, including Gettysburg, PA, which paranormal enthusiasts have christened “the most haunted town in America.”
• Lauren Wilkins ’11, a Political Science major, will spend the summer in Washington, DC interning for the Reserve Officers Association, an organization of active and retired members of the military that advises the President and Congress on national security issues. This internship will provide her a unique opportunity to conduct research for her senior thesis on the connection between military service and political behavior.
• English major Kristine Sloan ’12 will explore biracial identity in America through a nonfiction writing project about her Filipino-American family and her own sense of dual identity. A summer trip to the Philippines—her first—will provide rich ground for reflection.
• Liz Shandor ’11, an Anthropology major, will continue fieldwork begun as a student in the intensive Chesapeake Semester program. She will spend the summer interviewing Chesapeake Bay watermen and scientists at the Department of Natural Resources to investigate the strained relationship between the striped bass fishing industry and the scientific community.
• Marta Wesenberg ’12, an English and Drama double major, will collaborate with Washington College Lecturer in Drama Robert Earl Price on a new play, All Blues, an exploration of life in the Jim Crow South. Wesenberg will create a series of short videos about southern black life that will be incorporated into the on-stage performance.
• Economics major Haley Long ’11 will concentrate on the factors spurring the depopulation of the “vanishing islands” of the Chesapeake. Applying her training in economic analysis to a trend long understood to be strictly environmental in causation, she will investigate the factors that led residents of Holland Island, MD to abandon the community by 1922.
When the Fellows return to Washington College in the fall, each will bring a unique point of view shaped by an unusual summer. As the years pass, these experiences may open intellectual and professional doors as yet unimagined.