Weissberg Scholars are selected from currently enrolled students and will receive Weissberg Scholarships to underwrite their financial aid in their junior and senior years. These scholars 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 is issued to faculty January each year, but students can also self-nominate. Nominees will then be invited to apply for the scholarships. Both domestic and international students are eligible.
To be eligible for Weissberg Scholarships, nominees must have exhibited a clear commitment to understanding and improving human rights as evidenced by coursework and other activities such as volunteering, interning, and extracurricular activities.
2015-17 Weissberg Scholars
- Lola Davis’16, Health and Society. My studies as a health & society major have allowed me to engage daily with human rights and social justice issues, examining a number of social/political/economic systems that impact human health. I am co-president of Women's Center, in which we facilitate events and discussion surrounding gender equality. This semester, I have lead the club in organizing Feminist Art Week, five days of feminist art events in April featuring visiting artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, whose work addresses street harassment and racial injustice. My participation as a coordinator for Girls and Women in Science, a hands-on conference for sixth grade girls, is another way I have participated in addressing issues of human rights and social justice. Lastly, I am a peer mentor working for Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation, in which I act as a supportive figure for students whose racial demographic puts them at a disadvantage, especially in science, technology, and math courses.
- Hannah Devereux’17, International Relations & Russian. Leading up until now I have been primarily focused on Russia and the history of Russia and it's upbringing on violent trends. I have also taken classes in the field of Middle Eastern politics, but my primary focus is on Russia and the Soviet states. As the crisis in Ukraine has become more headed I have begun to focus on the dynamic between the two states, both old and new. Over the coming summer I have received an internship to work at the US Embassy in Ukraine in the public affairs sector. I'm not fully aware of what my assignment will be just yet, but I know that I will be active in the community. It is my hope that I can meet people who have been directly affected by the violations of Russians in the Eastern part of Ukraine. My senior year I am planning on going abroad to Moscow and I plan to continue this research by comparing the attitudes of Russians to the attitude of Ukrainians about the Crimean occupation and the human rights violations (as well as states rights violations) that have occurred since the beginning of the occupation.
- Koont Thet Htar’17, International Relations & Business Economics. I was an intern in the Myanmar Minerva Education Center in Yangon, Myanmar in summer 2014. I coordinated, translated, and helped in organizing workshops. The seminars and classes are taught by professors and researchers from Myanmar and abroad who give short social science courses to political activists, politicians, civil service organizations, and government officers. This year, I was the president of Beloit College International Club and I volunteered as an English teacher at a Girls’ orphanage and British Council Mobile Library. I would like study more on human rights and social justice both in the classroom and in the field by interning throughout my college career and beyond. I would like to work in international development from the economic perspective while taking the human rights and social justice into the consideration as my career and future study. I am planning to study abroad in Belgium next year.
- Meredith Shimek’17, International Relations & Psychology. Last summer I volunteered at an NGO in Nablus, Palestine where I taught ESL and studio art to young kids and held conversational classes with adults. I learned what the direct impact of human rights violations looked like in Palestinians daily lives. I learned about the benefits of open conversation, international connection and interaction. Upon my return I took Middle East Politics to further my knowledge on the history, roots of the conflict, parties involved and others actions and perspectives. This summer I plan on engaging in social change by volunteering and living at a community center and home for people with mental and intellectual disabilities in Belgium. I hope to learn about the benefits of persons with disability living in a home that provides a diverse community and meaningful interactions and experiences. I will be able to utilize what I have learned about mental and intellectual disabilities in the psychology courses I have taken so far to help build relationships and support daily interaction and integration. I will be studying abroad in Senegal next spring where I plan on engaging with charitable and social organizations. I will be able to apply what I have learned in my Women and Politics in Africa course including the colonial factors that have curbed the growth of civil society, constrained women’s organizations and leadership, and influences and perceptions of the media. I will be most interested in looking at issues of freedom of thought and expression and discrimination.
- Tessa Sebastian’17, Health and Society & Critical Identity Studies. My work investigating and defending human rights is grounded in my study of health and health systems. As a health & society major at Beloit College, I examine how systems of oppression create disorder within the body. On the Beloit College campus I am co-president of the Women's Center, a group concerned with creating a dialogue for women identifying individuals so that their knowledge and experiences can be recognized. My interest in health and human rights overlaps in this area as I research women's health and the ways in which women have been forbidden access to information to their bodies historically.
- Macy Tran’17, Health and Society. As a Health and Society/Education and Youth Studies double major, I am interested in seeing where the intersections of health, human rights, and education intersect, especially in the lives of women and young girls whose bodies are often socially/historically located and defined. My current classes work on analyzing the current health disparities that exist and build creative solutions by using an intersectional and multi-cultural lens. Beyond health as a human right, my work as co-president of the Beloit Amnesty International Club on campus has enabled me to both educate and learn about the human rights issues happening around the world. I seek to engage the Beloit campus with international human rights issues and build bridges to the issues we have on campus and in our community. My human rights work also extends into the community, where I volunteer to work with under-served students; I also have an internship at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.
2014 - 16 Weissberg Scholars
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 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
A 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 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 (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 (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 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.