- Dung Nguyen (’15) will teach in Thailand.
- Nia Lesesne (’15) selected as alternate to teach in Thailand
Senior Nehemiah Rolle from Atlanta, a politics and international affairs major, is an active leader in The Roosevelt Institute at Wake Forest, a student-led, student-run organization dedicated to progressive public policy change and idea empowerment. He is also an associate editor of the Wake Forest Journal of International Affairs and is a resident adviser. He has a love for all things intercultural and a passion for making the world a better place.
Senior Joe LeDuc from Spokane, Wash., also a politics and international affairs major, serves as a steering committee member of “Forward Together,” Wake Forest’s interest group of the NAACP. He champions inclusiveness and justice for all members of the campus community — inspiring others to recognize their own ability to make their community a better place not just for themselves but also for humanity.
The goal of the Fulbright award to Russia is to serve as an ambassador between Russia and the US. With the English Teaching Assistantship, I will divide my time working in the classroom with high school or middle school students, serving directly with the English language teachers, providing private tutoring, and working on an individual project. My project will be compiling profiles on average Russian citizens and publishing their photos and a short paragraph about them on a blog. I am hoping that this will dispel some misconceptions Americans have about Russia. I am also hoping to work with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to promote this blog. I am not sure what city I will be in (I could be anywhere in Russia!) or what my living situation will be like, but I know that I am extremely excited to undertake such an adventure and help deepen understanding between Russia and the United States.
Ken Meyer was offered a Fulbright award to teach in Turkey during 2013-14. He declined as he had committed to the Cambridge MPhil program.
Rising senior and major Jeremy Hefter earned a federal, competitive language/culture grant, the Gilman, for study SP ’13 in Hong Kong. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
I was awarded the Fulbright to assistant teach in Santander, Spain. I will be an English assistant teacher and also direct the school’s Global Classrooms Program, which is a Model U.N. like extracurricular activity. Starting date is 15 September 2013.
I will teach English in South Korea for children in secondary education.
Katherine Wycisk (’12) is volunteer co-director of Aid4Uganda, a nonprofit in Melbourne, Australia, that supports orphanages in Uganda. “It’s the only kind of work I could ever imagine doing, and it is the most incredible job in the world,” she says. All of the money raised by Aid4Uganda goes directly to care for children. She is currently raising funds to more than double the size of an orphanage just outside the capital city of Kampala to house 100 children.
Why are you so passionate about this cause?
I wish I knew! I just know that my purpose in this world is to try and make it a little better – cleaner, happier, less hungry – than I found it. I do not have any grand illusions about changing the world, because no one person could ever do that. Rather, I believe in joining the ranks of those idealistic people who keep fighting to make a vision of a better future reality, because I am sure that if enough people do join them, sooner or later, the world will become a better place.
When did your interest in Africa begin?
It actually dates back to high school; that was when I learned about the insurgency raging in northern Uganda and started getting interested in the country’s – and the region’s – politics and culture. As my interest grew, I began reading East African newspapers and started getting involved with organizations such as Gulu Walk and the Enough Project that worked for peace and development in East Africa.
How did you pursue that interest at Wake?
I majored in political science, with an unofficial focus on African Studies and international development. I wrote every research paper I could on Uganda and the surrounding region, and I started thinking about traveling to the area. I finally got my chance in the summer before my senior year, when I used funding from the Richter Scholarship to spend two months in Uganda, splitting my time between volunteering in the capital city district and doing research in the northern city of Gulu.
The trip was absolutely incredible; I got to talk American foreign policy with people actually affected by it. I got to play with kids, travel the country, and do field research. I got to try my hand at cooking Ugandan dishes, sleep in an orphanage, and tour NGOs working to rehabilitate the northern region. I came home not only with an enhanced understanding of Uganda and the East African region, but with a career.
What professors inspired you while you were at Wake Forest?
Dr. Thomas Phillips (’74, MA ’78) was my single greatest inspiration; he pushed me to travel, to research and to experience as much of life as I could. He helped me craft summer research projects, encouraged me to take classes I never would have considered for myself, and got me reading some of the most interesting books I have ever encountered. His mentorship helped me grow enormously as a person and a scholar, and it helped me figure out what I wanted from my life and my career.
How did you become involved with Aid4Uganda?
While I was in Uganda (through the Richter Scholarship), I met Shane Falconer, who was building an orphanage in a small suburb outside the capital city of Kampala. Shane was interested in expanding his work and creating a small charity focused on supporting orphanages throughout the country. It was an inspiring idea, and one that intrigued me. I could see that investing in children was the way to put the country’s people on the road to prosperity. Shane and I joined forces and established Aid4Uganda.
I know you worked for a year before you graduated with another Wake Forest graduate, the Rev. Taylor Field (’76), pastor of Graffiti Church in New York City. How did that experience affect you?
Graffiti was a wonderful experience because it showed me how powerfully beneficial grassroots charity work can be. Graffiti works primarily with the underprivileged population of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, providing services such as GED classes, a clothing closet for job interview attire, computer classes and a soup kitchen. Being involved in such an on-the-ground organization helped me see how investing in individuals and meeting them where they’re at is the best way to influence and develop a community.
Major: Political Science
Minors: Economics, Middle East and South Asia Studies
Hometown: Randolph, NJ
After graduation, Ken Meyer will head to the United Kingdom to study for a masters in international relations and politics at the University of Cambridge. His thesis will compare and contrast political polarization in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Q: What’s different about you since your first year on campus?
A: During orientation I probably drove my first-year roommate and my new hall mates insane as I spewed politics endlessly for the first few days. It’s a miracle that many of them are still my friends. I’ve always had a love affair with American politics. My vision for my life tracked toward managing campaigns and government offices at the national level. Though I’m still fundamentally the same bleeding-heart Democrat that walked onto campus four years ago, my time at Wake Forest and in North Carolina taught me to listen, to talk across geographic divides and to see the common humanity beneath our politics.
Q: What activities did you enjoy outside of the classroom?
A: I never planned on working in newspapers. I never wrote for my high school paper. I never wrote for my town paper. Newspapers seemed like a dying medium. When I followed a friend up to the newspaper office my first week at Wake, it was supposed to be a simple trade off. If I went with her to the first Old Gold & Black newspaper meeting, she would come with me to the first mock trial meeting. Four years later, she never once wrote for the paper, but I started working with the staff in graphic design and eventually made my way up the newspaper ladder to serve as the first-ever managing editor for online content. We built out a new online program for the Old Gold & Black that included a new website, new social media accounts, and a new mobile application. For someone who never planned on working in newspapers, I’m very proud to say that our staff and this program won Best of Show for Online News at the 2012 North Carolina Statewide College Media Awards. I’m also personally proud to say that this experience allowed me to volunteer my fall semester serving the White House as an intern in its Office of Digital Strategy.
Q: Did you study abroad?
A: Since coming to Wake Forest I’ve had the privilege of spending time in 10 different countries. The Outdoor Pursuits club took me backpacking during my first spring break through the Spanish island of Mallorca. The city of Fez in Morocco opened its doors to me to conduct a research project on urbanization comparing its old and new halves. The fall semester of 2011 I attended the University of Cambridge through a Wake Forest study abroad program. The face of the world has changed even in my short lifetime. That’s why I was so happy to take advantage of Wake Forest’s commitment to send students abroad to learn about the world beyond our shores.
Q:. How have your major and minors worked together?
A: In my politics thesis, “Spring is for Parties.” I argue that the Arab Spring in Egypt enfranchised the country’s citizens by creating a new multiparty democracy out of the former single-party autocracy. This thesis tied together each of the strands of my undergraduate education: the party research pulled together my political science major; the focus on Egypt closed my Middle East Studies minor, and the illustration of a revolution in a developing country anchored my economics minor.
Q: Who has most influenced you during your time at Wake Forest?
A: Dr. Tom Phillips in the Wake Forest Scholars program has embodied this University’s dedication to mentorship. He’s been a constant adviser, aide-de-camp, ally and friend. I’ll always be grateful to him for the help he’s offered me in putting together research programs during each summer I’ve been at Wake Forest, guiding me through the rigors of academia, and finally, looking for post-graduate opportunities. Thank you, Dr. Phillips, from the bottom of my heart.
Q: What is your favorite campus spot?
A: The fifth floor of the Benson University Center. It’s a place that not many Wake students ever find if they’re not involved in campus media, but at night it offers one of the most incredible views of the Winston-Salem skyline.
Q: Your best advice for an incoming first-year student?
A: Don’t be afraid to spend time in Winston-Salem. Go to the Reynolda House; volunteer or speak at a local high school, or head downtown even for just an afternoon. For the rest of my life, I know I will always count the city beyond Wake Forest’s gates as a home to which I will look forward to returning.
Monica Petrescu, graduate of the Political Science and Economics Departments, wins prestigious Gates Scholarship.