Autumn 2016 – New scholars and timeless memories

This past year has been a busy one for the Davies-Jackson Scholarship. From welcoming the latest scholar to a bustling reunion in Washington, DC, things haven’t stopped. Read on to find out more. (Note: click on images to read full caption. Enjoy!)


Davies-Jackson scholars Courtney Dymowski, Caitlin Ray, Alex Kramer and Briana Britton at the St. John’s College May Ball

New funding at St. John’s College

In case you missed the announcement, St. John’s announced a huge project earlier this year. A new five-year pilot scheme aims to provide undergrads from lower-income families non-repayable grants, as well as summer bursaries to help them pursue interest during the long school holiday.

All this has been made possible through donations from alumni and others. The aim is to ensure that if a student gets a place at St. John’s, they’re able to make the most of it regardless of financial background. Just like with the Davies-Jackson Scholarship.  

Incoming scholar – Meet Melissa Hopkins


Melissa will start at St. John’s College in October. Here the incoming scholar describes how she found Cambridge. 

In the fall of 2011, after five years of constantly working one full-time and one part-time job (and sometimes more) following high school graduation, I finally went back to school.

After my first year of taking classes at community college, I applied for a scholarship program to Bucknell University. That program required me and 26 other students to take two 6-week summer courses at Bucknell in order to prove that we had what it took to be granted full-tuition scholarships there. After completing the summer at Bucknell, I went back for my second year at community college and worked hard to maintain my high GPA while working part-time and running a campus club.


I applied for an international scholarship that my college offered, in which you could ask for money for a program abroad that you wanted to attend. I asked for money to attend a short summer class at Cambridge in the summer of 2013, and it was granted. I went to Cambridge and took a class in psychology (my major), wrote a paper for it, and received top marks.

While I was there, I bought a keychain of King’s College Chapel. This keychain has remained on my set of keys since then. Every so often, I would pull them out and look at them and imagine myself back at Cambridge, this time as an actual student.

I researched the scholars at Cambridge who were in my field and with who I would like to study, delighted to find that I had already read some of their publications. I tried to tell myself that if I put in the necessary work at Bucknell, I would be able to go back.


Accordingly, I cannot express enough how many tears I shed when I got my acceptance letter. Everything that I have sacrificed to go back to school seems to have paid off. My grief felt validated. It was an exhilarating feeling. That is the most I would like to express to you all for the time being. I can tell you that my scholarship interests lie in moral psychology, and that I will be studying in Psychological and Behavioral Sciences while at Cambridge. I’m divorced. I have about eight years of experience in the bar industry; three in clerical work. I found out about this scholarship literally about three or four days before the deadline, but knew at once that I must apply.


There are a lot of other things to say, but I’m not quite willing to reveal all my secrets just yet. Thank you to everyone who has already contacted me and been so helpful. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can!

The reunion 

While I could write to tell you how splendid, inspiring and magical the Davies-Jackson Reunion was, hosted in the Cosmos Club in December 2015, CIC already has impeccably well. See the article and associated images here. 


From CIC page – Scholarship alumni Richard Pressley (Butler University [IN]) and Delicia Reynolds (Saint Peter’s University [NJ]) mingle during the reception at the reunion weekend for Davies-Jackson scholars.

Update from current scholar Briana Briton 

It’s worth noting Brianna kindly sent this to me earlier this year. She’s since gone to the May Ball. 


Briana on the left, Caitlin on the right, in Edinburgh, Scotland

I am overly excited to be leaving Cambridge for home. I did not go home for either Christmas or Easter break so I have not seen my family since September.

During Christmas Caitlin and I went to Dublin and Belfast. Over the Easter break, Caitlin’s sister joined us for a trip to Edinburgh and London. Just this past week, we went to Disneyland in Paris! I have enjoyed all of my travels but Edinburgh has by far been my favourite. My goal is to go to Austria in the week before term starts next academic year and then spend one of my breaks going around the boot of Italy.


Briana at Paris Disney

As for my academic experience at Cambridge, I took five exams this year. Looking forward, I am very excited for my dissertation next year where I plan to (hopefully) do a policy analysis of the political and social agendas of No Child Left Behind. In less than a week I will be back in Illinois but before that happens Caitlin and I will be attending May Ball at St. John’s. It looks like the music act is going to be right outside our room’s window!

Update from current scholar Caitlin Ray


Caitlin at formal hall with her college family

This first year at Cambridge has been exhausting, intense, and absolutely brilliant. I didn’t really understand how stressful it would be to have a year’s work measured by one examination.
I also wrote my first dissertation this year on female madness in three of Charlotte Bronte’s novels. I am quite proud of my dissertation and feel that writing it has greatly improved my researching and editing skills. It was actually fun at times! It is so important to hold on to the enjoyment of one’s work, especially in the stressful academic sphere of Cambridge.

Caitlin and a fish in London

During this year, I, of course, also had non-academic fun. Briana and I travelled during our winter break to Dublin and Belfast. While it was one of the coldest trips we have taken, we greatly enjoyed visiting both cities, and most importantly, trying their food. Over the Easter break my sister, Kelsey, came to visit. After showing her around Cambridge, we spent a few days in Edinburgh and London. I might have made the girls walk a bit too much, but the sightseeing opportunities were worth the pain.

In September, I hope to spend a few days in Bath for the Jane Austen festival. Considering my immense love for Austen, the festival is not to be missed. I am also trying to plan trips to Germany and Spain, not necessarily for literary reasons.

This summer was a whirlwind of research, both for my future trips and my second dissertation. While I am sad that my first year in Cambridge is over, I cannot wait to see what next year holds.

Update from previous scholar Deanie Vallone 


After finishing up an Education Residency with Milwaukee Repertory Theater, I accepted a season-long Dramaturgy and Casting Apprenticeship with Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, FL. I had the pleasure of working alongside Tony-award nominated and winning artists on both classic and brand-new, Broadway-bound shows.

I researched and wrote extensively for the theatre, served as production dramaturg on shows, helped select and cast next season’s lineup, and curated a new play festival. I even got to attend the Humana Festival in Louisville, KY, one of the most respected and exciting new play festivals in the country.

After attending the DJ reunion in DC, I collaborated with Danae and wrote an article about raptor training for Jumeirah Magazine.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 12.36.36

This summer I’m keeping busy while serving as a freelance Dramaturgy Consultant for Asolo Rep, teaching two raptor camps and a creative writing camp, and visiting with friends and family. In August I’m off to do a season-long Dramaturgy Fellowship with Center Stage, a theatre in Baltimore.

And there we go… 
As always, if you came to this page via research about the Davies-Jackson Scholarship itself, please see CIC’s website for more information. It’s an amazing experience and applying is a great idea.
Special thanks to previous scholar Deanie Vallone for all her help in putting this update together. I really couldn’t have done it without her. Thank you! 

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