Six University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students received UNC Class of 1938 travel fellowships for research abroad this summer.
The students were chosen from 37 applicants who submitted proposals for projects outside the United States. Selection is based on the quality of applicants’ proposals, financial need and seriousness of academic purpose. Each will receive $5,000.
Five of the students received 2012 Class of 1938 Summer Study Abroad Fellowships. Chosen by committees that included Class of 1938 members and former fellows, the recipients are Elizabeth Atwell of Pittsfield, Mass.; Margo Balboni of Rockport, Mass.; Lauren Donoghue of Kannapolis; Piya Kerdlap of Eastchester, N.Y.; and Erica O’Brien of Fayetteville.
Helene Kirschke-Schwartz of Wilmington received the Charles H. and Margaret M. Witten Travel Award, also $5,000. Class of 1938 members Dr. Charles and Margaret Witten established the award in 1992.
Every year since 1975, an endowment created by UNC’s Class of 1938 has funded independent projects abroad by UNC students. Class members, who lived through and lost friends to World War II, created the endowment to help foster international understanding and promote world peace.
“Every year it is an honor to meet and get to know these outstanding students who are already productive, contributing citizens at UNC and in the community at large,” said Jane Rosenberg, assistant director for student and exchange visitor services at UNC, through which the fellowships are awarded. “We are proud to have these students represent UNC internationally as young women and men whose projects abroad serve to promote well-being, peace and understanding from the scientific to the most personal of relationship building.”
Atwell, the daughter of Robert and Phyllis Atwell, is a public policy and international studies major. With her fellowship, Atwell will live and work at two farms in France through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program.
Atwell will help install a new greenhouse at the first farm in the Vosges Mountains in northeast France and a waterwheel that will be used to generate energy to run a small grain mill at the second in Ariège in south France. At both, she will help with daily responsibilities such as cooking, planting, harvesting, selling and general upkeep.
Balboni, daughter of Marianne Sheridan and Lawrence Balboni, is a peace, war and defense major. Last summer, she traveled to Amman and formed connections with Iraqi refugees. With her travel fellowship, she will return to Jordan and partner with the Families Development Association to lead a team of five UNC students on a mission to empower women in the economic development of their communities.
Balboni hopes to develop an academic enrichment program, including English classes and community outreach for local teenage girls, research local approaches to women’s right activism within the Arab-Muslim cultural context of Jordan and promote a rich and mutually beneficial cultural exchange between American students and Jordanian, Palestinian and Iraqi youth.
Donoghue, daughter of Susan Donoghue, is a biology major. She will travel for seven weeks as a research intern with the director for the Center for Transboundary Water Management at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in southern Israel.
There she will be responsible for water quality monitoring and assessment, stakeholder engagement and watershed-based policy planning. Her project will focus on the lack of understanding and need for engagement on the issue of polluted transboundary streams with regard to environmental health and effective policy while addressing the need for sustainable cooperation and leadership for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Kerdlap, son of Anongpanga and Somporn Kerdlap, is an environmental science major. He will work at the Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment in Bangkok, Thailand, to assess the use of solar water pasteurizers, an alternative method of drinking water disinfection that uses solar radiation instead of electricity or other fuels.
His research will include the current water quality issues in rural areas of Thailand and the conventional technologies and methods used to secure clean drinking water. He will then determine the environmental impacts of the solar water pasteurizers and the financial feasibility of implementing them in remote areas of Thailand.
O’Brien, daughter of Susan and Michael O’Brien, is a global studies and communication studies major. She will travel to Cape Town, South Africa, as an intern at the South African Education and Environment Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Cape Town’s disadvantaged youth.
With her internship, O’Brien will conduct research on the implementation of the Revised National Technology Curriculum in predominantly white and predominantly black high schools to identify any trending gaps in technology education. Her analysis will help organizations develop after-school enrichment programs designed to supplement in-class technology instruction. Her research and findings will also be used to complete her senior honors thesis in global studies.
Kirschke-Schwartz, daughter of Amy Kirschke and Tom Schwartz, is an African studies major. With her Witten Travel Award, she will travel to Moshi, Tanzania, to serve as an intern for the nongovernmental organization White Orange Youth and to promote education as a way to confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Her duties will include acting as a peer counselor and working in the after-school program to educate and provide support to those with HIV/AIDS. She will also develop a new tutoring program so that students can receive one-on-one attention and help on their homework.
Class of 1938 Fellowships website: http://oisss.unc.edu/services_programs/1938/index.html
Note: Atwell can be reached at
; Balboni at
; Donoghue at
; Kerdlap at
; Kirschke-Schwartz at
; and O’Brien at
Photo: http://uncnews.unc.edu/images/stories/news/students/2012/dsc01534.jpg From left to right, fellowship recipients are Helene Kirschke-Schwartz, Elizabeth Atwell, Erica O’Brien, Piya Kerdlap, Lauren Donoghue and Margo Balboni.
Class of 1938 Fellowships contact: Jane Rosenberg, (919) 962-5661,
News Services contact: Susan Hudson, (919) 962-8415,