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Weissberg Scholars

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Starting in 2012 Weissberg Scholars are selected from currently enrolled students and will receive Weissberg Scholarships to help support their studies in their junior and senior years.  These scholars will receive a one-time $3,000 award to gain hands-on experience with human rights work between their junior and senior years.  A call for nominations will be issued to faculty in spring 2012. Nominees will then be invited to apply for the scholarships. Both domestic and international students will be eligible.

To be eligible for Weissberg Scholarships, nominees must have exhibited a clear commitment to understanding and improving human right as evidenced by coursework and other activities such as volunteering, interning, and extracurricular activities.

To nominate a student, submit a nomination form here. 

Nominees will be invited to submit applications.

Deadline for nominations: February 1

2014 - 16 Weissberg ScholarsMarcail Distante'16

Marcail Distante’16, international relations, Latin American and Caribbean Studies minor

Marcail is engaged in social change in the Beloit community through volunteering as a teacher, reading buddy and newspaper staff member. In 2013-14, she has worked with the Spanish-language newspaper, “La Voz de Beloit."  She has also volunteered as a computer skills and English as a Second Language teacher at the Stateline Literacy Council in Beloit.  Marcail carried out an internship the nonprofit organization Global Exchange in San Francisco over the summer of 2014.


Dennis Kariuki’16, international political economy & chemistry

Dennis Kariuki'16Dennis is from Eldoret, Kenya, an area that suffered greatly during post-election violence. He has chosen his studies to fit his future interests in engaging with the scientific community to develop more affordable medicines to reduce mortality rates in Kenya. He is the online editor of Awake Africa which is a print magazine based in Ghana. He founded the Wealth Gap Club at Beloit College, a group interested in engaging with issues of global income disparity.



2013-15 Weissberg Scholars

Matej Jungwirth’15, International Relations and Comparative Literature

Matej JungwirthA native of Prague, Czech Republic, Matej spent the spring of 2013 studying U.S. Foreign Policy and interning at the Institute of World Politics while attending the Washington Semester Program at American University. This summer Matej spent six weeks in Israel and West Bank. For four weeks he volunteered with the Canadian NGO Project Hope in Nablus, West Bank, where he taught ESL classes and organized afternoon sports activities for local Palestinian youth. After that he traveled on the Israeli side of the security barrier to study the strained relationship between Arab and Israeli communities. Matej is also writing a research paper on the history of the Fatah-Hamas split in the Palestinian territories and the most recent developments therein, especially with regard to the events of Arab Spring.

In Spring 2014, Matej will study abroad in Amman, Jordan.  Matej’s engagement with human rights has been ignited by Beth Dougherty’s class on Mass Killings and Genocides and by a rare opportunity to attend a lecture in New York City by Roméo Dallaire, the commander of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda.  Matej aspires to a career in diplomacy and/or international relations that will allow him to directly tackle human rights issues. 

Allison Smith’15, international relations and Russian

Allison SmithAllison has examined human rights in her classes, research and work.  Although she has looked at human rights in Africa while working for Prof. Rachel Ellett (international relations), she usually concentrates her study of human rights issues in Russia, such as researching violations in the Chechen Wars. Next year she will study abroad for two semesters in Russia, first in Moscow and then in Vladivostok.

Throughout these two semesters she will conduct research on Russia’s relation to East Asia and perceptions of these relations, which includes examining human rights. Following her semester in Vladivostok, she plans to remain in that city to intern with Human Rights Watch. While interning she will examine policy and human rights issues in the area.


2012-14 Weissberg Scholars

Alen Kerić'14

Alen KericAlen Kerić (pictured) is a Performance and Media Studies major and a Political Science minor. Alen grew up in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina facing a wide range of human rights issues such as equality for national groups. Last summer, Alen participated in the International Summer School on Peace and Conflict Resolution learning how to manage discussions about human rights issues as well as lectures by various war journalists, historians, members of the Red Cross and many others. While at Beloit, Alen has incorporated human rights into his studies in various ways. Alen’s theatre classes have allowed him analyze the different forms of theatre created as a reaction to oppression in societies.  Alen’s plans for engaging with human rights includes an internship with Save the Children (either in the US or in Bosnia), an internship with Dah Theater, job shadowing of human rights activists in Washington D.C., and taking courses on Communist and Post -Communist Systems and U.S. Media and Politics in a Global Context. Alen also plans to research theatre groups that use performance as a way to create communication between different people.

Amanda Lawnicki'14

Amanda Lawnicki'14Amanda Lawnicki (pictured, on the left) is an International Relations and Russian major.  She participates in Model U.N. which helps in her understanding of how the international politics play into human rights. Amanda's studies focus around memorial to human rights atrocities in the past.  She has job shadowed at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and will study memorials in Moscow, Russia next fall. Amanda also plans to go on the SIT program in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo which will examine changes in politics, civil society and memory with research, cultural activities and interactions with activists and host families.

Kidan Araya'13

Kidan Araya is an International Relations and Environmental studies major and Health and Society minor. Kidan has taken many courses that relate to human rights from a variety of perspectives. For instance, her African Politics course showed her the consequences of a person’s right to vote in a fair election when the right is not respected by a country and her course on Global Health care has analyzed the possibility of universal health care rights. Currently, Kidan is studying Social Pluralism and Development in Central Africa, which has significantly changed her perspectives on human rights and fuels her desire to continue human rights work. Kidan’s plans for engaging in human rights are research with the McNair Scholars Program on environmental justice, working as an Upward Bound tutor for local Beloit students, and conducting research on water infrastructure in Cameroon. Kidan also plans to volunteer with an NGO that promotes environmental stewardship and management in Cameroon. Her SIT program will allow her to conduct research on community forest management and she plans to return there later to continue her research.


The first Weissberg Scholarships was awarded to two Afghan students, Ahmad Hemmat, in 2007/08,  and Ahmad Javid in 2009/10.  After graduation, Ahmad Hemmat joined DC-based InterMedia, an  independent, global consultancy specializing in strategic research and evaluation, mostly with development and philanthropic organizations.  Javid majored in political science, and while at Beloit, he interned with the German Marshall Fund and studied abroad at Vesalius University in Brussels.  A December 2010 graduate, Javid currently works as a program coordinator for the Marshall Fund and is actively engaged with the Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan.  Zaid Al-Hadeethi and Narges Hussaini were named Weissberg Scholars in 2010.  Coming from Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, Zaid and Narges began their first year of studies at Beloit College in August 2010.  They were joined in August 2011 by two additional incoming Weissberg Scholars, Hana Vackova, Czech Republic, and Namoonga Mantina, Zambia.