This year, for the first time in Davies-Jackson history, we have six scholars nearly overlapping. Three are incoming, two outgoing, and one embarking upon her second year. The new scholars are filled with excitement and nerves, as they reveal below; the current and outgoing ones are replete with stories of travel, May Balls, and exams.
Read on to find out more…
Incoming scholar – Alex Kraemer
I first heard about the Davies-Jackson Scholarship at a meeting held by Professors David Campion and Karen Gross, in regards to scholarship opportunities for Lewis & Clark students. My ears perked up when I heard about the scholarship, because it was specifically meant for first-generation college students. My mother and father together raised five children, while also running a large family farm alongside my many other relatives. My community is one with deeply-sunk roots and long traditions; college, for the most part, is not one such tradition. Our focus as a family has been upon keeping the farm going (which has proven very difficult at times), and so neither of my parents were even able to consider the possibility of attending an institution of higher learning. Consequently, I did not grow up in an environment where education was emphasized; I was always considered a little odd for my propensity for books and my exacting vocabulary. I come from a long line of extremely practical people, geniuses at what they do and always able to find a novel solution to insurmountable problems.
I preferred abstract thought, which was a worthwhile distraction to some but a fruitful pursuit to none. Naturally, this meant there was some talk of my relative usefulness to the farm. (Or active disservice to it; in one particular episode, I mistakenly put diesel in the radiator of a tractor, an oversight I have not, and likely never will, live down.) My parents never shared the rest of the family’s ambivalence, however. They always supported me, even when my educational ambitions took me first to Washington, D.C., further than anyone in my family had gone to live in 100 years, and then to Portland, Oregon after I found Washington too far away from my home. Oftentimes I felt unworthy of their confidence, and as such worked as hard as I could to achieve as much as I could. I’ve always wanted to make my parents proud, and show them that their faith in me was not misplaced.
So when I heard about the Davies-Jackson Scholarship, it seemed like the perfect means of finally achieving something that I knew would show them, and the rest of the family, that they made the right bet. I wrote half a dozen drafts each for every one of the required essays, foisting them upon professors I was close with for revisions, and obsessing over every detail. I had relatively little confidence that I would be considered, but that is simply the inborn trait of a son of a yeoman farmer, to whom disappointment is a constant companion.
When I was selected for an interview, then, I was stunned. I went into it with, again, little confidence that anything would come from it. To cite a cliché, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” But in this case, hope was not in vain. The morning that I had received word I had been selected, that I was going to St. John’s, is one I have trouble describing. “Elation” is a paltry word for it, but it will do. This scholarship is not only the culmination of years of hard work on not only my part, but on the part of my entire family. This is the key to showing my parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and cousins, that their support was not wasted on me. This scholarship is a demonstration that my very raison d’etre, to make my family proud, and show them my worth, is not meaningless.
Incoming scholar – Caitlin Ray
Hello from Montgomery, Alabama! My name is Caitlin Ray and I am very thankful and blessed to be one of the Davies-Jackson scholarship recipients for 2015. Currently, I attend Huntingdon College, but will be graduating in May with a B.A. in English. At this point, I am both excited to be graduating and anxious that I will not finish my Capstone, senior thesis, in time. However, knowing that I will be moving to England in the fall is quite a motivator.
In the fall of 2014, I was given the position of work/study for the Huntingdon English department. One day the head of our English department, Dr. Jennifer Fremlin, called me into her office. She said that she had seen a scholarship that looked like it had been made for me. She had literally written my name across the top of the paper. She knew from many conversations with me that one of my goals was to study abroad.
The application for the scholarship was due in a little over a week from the day I heard about it. I never thought I would get finished with my essays in time. Actually, I was a terrible student and did not study for one of my tests like I should have in order to get the papers completed. Needless to say, I did not make a great grade on that test. However, I finished the application packet and FedExed it the day before it was due. Then I tried to forget about it. That didn’t work out too well. I thought about my application constantly. I knew that I would hear from the scholarship selection team in January.
During Christmas break, I got an email saying that St. John’s College wanted a skype interview with me! I freaked! When the interview was over I was shaking so much that I could not even make myself a cup of tea; my aunt had to make it for me. Then the waiting game began; again I was told that I would hear something in early January. On January 9th, I received an email saying that I had been offered the scholarship! My shock was so great that I didn’t properly show my excitement until a few days later. I still haven’t stopped smiling.
Existing scholar – Courtney Dymowsky
Hello everyone! Since my last update in December a LOT has happened. I travelled Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands with my dear friend from home, John. We had a fantastic time and once back in Cambridge we threw a Tex-Mex night for all of my English friends, introducing them to margaritas, nachos and pico de gallo. It was a blast and such a good reminder of home!
My second term went well and though it was certainly more intense then my first term, it was nonetheless insightful, enriching, and probably my favorite one yet.
Outside of class I celebrated Burns Night, continued to enjoy eating scrumptious meals in hall with friends, had a Lord of the Rings movie night filled with questionable BBQ sauced pizza, and made occasional day trips to London. This past winter was pretty cold, at least for this Texan, though I did enjoy the snowfall in Cambridge which made me revert to my five-year old self, ready to go out at the crack of dawn and make snow angels. I also began volunteering at Kettle’s Yard, a contemporary art museum and house. This museum has become my new favorite place in Cambridge with it’s inviting, light-filled spaces brimming with carefully curated prints and eclectic objects.
In other exciting news, this Spring break I, as always, was eager to travel. It just so happened that my good friend Allison was in Ethiopia during Easter break doing research on indigenous wall paintings, so I booked a ticket and was there a few weeks later.
Myself, Allison, and four other amazing girls who we had met along the way, travelled Northern Ethiopia for 3 weeks. It was certainly a profound, crazy and inspiring adventure. Some highlights include our bus being delayed because they needed to strap a corpse onto the roof, seeing the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, spending five days in the hottest place on earth while being transported to another planet, trekking trough the desert, and visiting a lava lake, and having the captivating experience of hiking up a cliff to be greeted by chanting priests in a 4th century church.
Now that I’m back and settled in Cambridge I’m gearing up for the intense process of studying for my exams at the end of May. So, here’s wishing me luck on the next 4 weeks as I go into hermit mode.
Until then, feel free to check out my blog (https://transatlantictraveler.wordpress.com) for more details about my outrageous life across the pond.
Outgoing scholar – Sasheene Denny
I am writing you from the rumbling bus from Cambridge city centre to Heathrow, on my way back to the good old US of A. Things have been quite eventful the last few months. First of all, and most excitingly, I have graduated! These past two years were the most challenging in my entire life, not only because of the work needed for the degree, but also because there were many changes within my life outside of academia. Ultimately though, I am leaving this experience an altogether changed individual. This is in no small part due to the utterly amazing people I had the opportunity to meet and the beautiful places I was able to go to outside of Cambridge.
In April, Queenie and I went to Edinburgh. We trekked the Royal Mile, explored the various shops and even hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat. This was no small feat for someone who is deathly scared of heights, but, with the help of the ever-wonderful Queenie, I was able to fight my way there. To say that the view was beautiful would be an understatement. The vivid and rolling green hills and peaks of the surrounding area were enough to take ones breath away. And at the end of it, we replenished electrolytes and fluids with a pair of bananas, which tasted much more ‘magical’ after climbing for nearly three hours.
In the wake of exam term, (which I only just managed to survive), there was the fevered excitement for the May Ball. The incredible fireworks were the highlight of our night, along with the vast array of delicious food and wonderful entertainment. But there was a tinge of sadness, as it was known that our time together would soon be at an end. Graduation followed, and I was struck by how ceremonial the entire process was, from marching down the cobblestone road to the Senate House to kneeling in front of the Master as he spoke both words of pride and the Latin intonations which signalled our admittance to our degrees. My family was unable to be there, but that did not prevent me from revelling in the fact that I had made it through and come out okay in the end.
Leaving Cambridge is both a great pain and a source of hope. I am leaving here with new knowledge, experiences and perspectives, ones that I would never have had were it not for the scholarship. I would never have met the utterly marvellous individuals who have since become my closest friends. I shall leave it there, because ultimately those are the most important and valuable things to me. For now, I am going home and going to be working on figuring out where I want to go in this next chapter in my life. I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far. Until next time!
Outgoing scholar – Queenie Ho
It has been a very busy term and time has absolutely flown by! I am now nearing the end of my second year, and it is bittersweet, indeed. I am so proud of all of my friends as they prepare for their pomp and circumstance at the end of this month!
I, however, am still in the midst of dissertation writing, job applying, Ph.D. hunting, contact making, and just generally trying to figure out my next adventure. Upward and onward, I say! Besides working on my dissertation, I also submitted a piece to a narrative initiative centered on women’s experiences in the world. You can read my short here, and if you want to, submit a piece, and share the love!
Work hasn’t stopped me from having some awesome adventures, though, and I have just had a blast!
At the beginning of January, my friend Mary-Catherine and I went to visit Marrakech, where we indulged in lots of mint tea, olives, derpy camels, and culture. We wandered around the city’s endless streets (and got into some hairy situations that would make an awesome “I can’t believe you guys” cocktail story). It was my first time in Africa and everything was just so brilliantly different—and all set to the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. My favorite part of this trip was definitely just walking around at dusk and seeing the one of the oldest markets in the world come to life. Everything and everywhere feels both old and timeless, and you’re so humbled when you realize that everything that this market square has a life of its own, and you’re just a small part of it. All those sounds and smells have been living and sounding and existing in this space in whatever form for nearly a thousand years and will probably carry on for a thousand more.
Then, in March, I visited Lisbon, Portugal with my long-time friend from home. I enjoyed the weather SO. MUCH. It was gorgeous and beautiful and a welcomed warmth in the middle of Cambridge March. Sometimes, I have to laugh that it is the middle of June, and I still get to wear a light jacket. It’s really a beautiful change the sweltering midwestern summers. Anyways, while we were in Portugal, we visited Cristo Rei, which is modeled after Christ the Redeemer in Rio (sometime in my life, I would have to go see that one too!). We climbed up to the top of it and saw the most beautiful view of the entire city. My favorite part of my trip in Lisbon was the National Tile Museum. It was so interesting to see how the different styles of tiles reflected the different cultural and historical periods in Portugal,. The most curious thing was definitely seeing how Moorish influences were incorporated into later Christian tiles.
And then later in April, Sass and I visited Edinburgh. We visited Edinburgh Castle, the Scotch Whiskey Distillery, and hiked up Arthur’s Seat (among the many other things that we did). The air up there was super crisp and clear, and you could see for miles and miles around. There’s nothing better to clear your mind that than!
And I went on some adventures in England too! I visited Ely Cathedral with the college chaplain, went to the Harry Potter studios, had a daytrip in London, and WENT TO THE MAY BALL!
Until next time, my friends!
Remembering Professor Richard Perham
In truly tragic news, the Davies-Jackson Scholarship lost one of it’s great supporters earlier this year: the gentleman scholar, Professor Richard Perham. Your humble moderator could never so accurately capture the details of the man as did The Times (please read the full piece here).