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Emory names 2018 Bobby Jones Scholars for study in Scotland

Emory College students Carli Kovel, Wei Wei Chen, Jason Sell and Leah Neiman will spend a year studying at the University of St Andrews as part of the prestigious Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholarship. Emory Photo/Video

Four outstanding students from Emory University will spend a year studying at the University of St Andrews in Scotland as part of the prestigious Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholarship.

Selected for their academic excellence, exemplary character and integrity, Emory College of Arts and Sciences seniors Wei Wei Chen, Carli Kovel, Leah Neiman and Jason Sell will join the more than 300 scholars who have participated in the program since its inception in 1976.

Commonly known as the “Bobby Jones Scholarship,” the program honors the legacy of the amateur golfer and scholar who attended Emory’s School of Law.

Forging a permanent bond of friendship and collaboration between St Andrews and Emory, the scholarship aims “to perpetuate Jones’ memory in the hearts and minds of young people by creating a permanent memorial to his sense of values and character.” In addition to sending four students to Scotland, Emory hosts four students from St Andrews for the year.  

“Each year we are presented with a group of highly accomplished students who have made a lasting impact on our campus. It is always an incredibly difficult decision to select just four from among the finalists,” says Joanne Brzinski, Emory College senior associate dean for undergraduate education and director of the Bobby Jones Program.

“The students we have chosen represent the best that Emory has to offer and we know that they will do themselves, the program and the university proud during their year in Scotland,” Brzinski says.

While the students are free to build their own non-degree course of study in Scotland, all four have elected to pursue a master’s degree in diverse fields such as museum and gallery studies, chemical catalysis, contemporary studies and business management.

Meet the 2018 Bobby Jones Scholars

Described by a recommender as a “promising young scholar who has a strong will to do good in the world,” film studies major Wei Wei Chen intends to pursue a master’s degree in contemporary studies. The program draws together 12 disciplinary approaches in analyzing and solving contemporary challenges. Chen says that the program would extend her undergraduate “exploration of film and media’s impacts on social reform and identity formation.”

During her time on campus, Chen, a Dean’s Achievement Scholar, served as both a sophomore and resident adviser in Residence Life, where she co-developed a theater and social justice program in collaboration with the Alliance Theater. She is a writer and actor with the Issues Troupe, and president of Emory’s Arts Underground organization.

Chen, a resident of Lake Mary, Florida, has a keen interest in the arts, and plans to take full advantage of the Scottish arts scene including, most notably, the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Undergraduate researcher Carli Kovel, a recipient of the William Jones Scholarship in chemistry, plans to continue her academic work in St Andrews by pursuing a master’s of science degree in catalysis. Catalysis is the study of catalysts and catalytic reactions. Kovel is particularly interested in “green chemistry” or catalytic reactions that do not produce toxic or hazardous by-products.

“The opportunity will provide me with international perspectives on utilizing chemistry to solve global environmental issues. This will eventually enable me to become a catalyst for change, through chemical catalysis,” says Kovel, a native of Chicago.

A mentor to other students, Kovel has worked with both the STEM Mentors and EPASS peer mentoring programs during her time in Emory College. She has volunteered with the Emory Clinic and is currently the co-president of “Hybrid Vigor” magazine, an interdisciplinary science publication designed to integrate research from science and the arts. In addition, Kovel co-founded “The Survivor Anthology,” a publication of artistic works from the survivors of relationship abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.

Passionate about the arts, Kovel plans to use her time in St Andrews to further understand its impact on individuals and participate in St Andrews’ own annual arts festival, On The Rocks.

Leah Neiman, from Port Jefferson, New York, is double majoring in ancient Mediterranean studies and classics. Neiman was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in fall 2016 and intends to enroll in the museum and gallery studies master’s program at St Andrews to develop her curatorial and educational skills, building upon the experience she has gained in museum education and study of ancient cultures at Emory.

“I love how museums bring past worlds back to life, and can inspire people to imagine themselves in those worlds,” Neiman says. “I want to dedicate my life to facilitating these connections as an archaeologist working closely with museum education departments.”

A Dean’s Achievement Scholar, Neiman has spent much of her time at Emory devoted to furthering her academic endeavors. Through an independent research grant, she participated in on-site archaeological research in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Samothrace, Greece, with Emory professor Bonna Wescoat.

She has served as co-president of the Michael C. Carlos Museum Student Guides, organized the Emory University Archaeology Festival and mentored a small group of international first-year students as an Academic Fellow. Neiman also teaches kindergarten students through Jewish Kids Groups.

Neiman is excited to become a part of the St Andrews community and plans to volunteer with the Museum of St Andrews (MUSA) and their many children’s programs. Currently president of the Tap Dance Group at Emory, she plans to continue dancing as part of the Swing Dance Society at the St Andrews.

QuestBridge ScholarJason Sell sees the Bobby Jones Program as a means of acquiring the skills to become a change agent in his community and the world. Through his psychology degree, and his time in the Community Building and Social Change (CBSC) program at Emory, Sell says that he has gained a stark perspective on the lives of struggling families and a desire to help people “particularly on issues of drug abuse and drug policy.” He intends to enroll in the master’s in management program to “expand my knowledgeability of business processes before I embark for a career in public policy.”

One of Sell’s recommenders said that among his greatest personal strengths are his “motivation and his persistence. He rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.” This approach is obvious in the activities he has participated in on campus.

Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, he has research experience in psychology, served as president of the Emory QuestBridge Scholars, and is currently a Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, where he lobbies lawmakers to devote more attention to public health approaches to drug abuse treatment. Sell was invited to return to the CBSC program for a second year as a project manager.

Sell, a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has previously visited Dundee, Scotland, as part of Emory’s Cross Cultural Psychology program. He hopes to be able to reengage with communities like the one he encountered in Dundee during his year at St Andrews. Sell says that the thing he reflected on most during his previous stint was “the kindness, generosity and warmth of the people in Scotland, and how easily it started to feel like home.”

In addition to the four winners, Eli Patt and Cameron Frostbaum were named alternates. Earlier this month, the University of St Andrews announced that their finalists – Rachel Dinsdale, Caitlin Macdonald, Ruaraidh MacIver and Erin Phillips – would be joining the Emory community in August as Bobby Jones Scholars.

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