The Colgate Scene
January 2000
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The best

Tops in their entering class, Alumni Memorial Scholars honor alumni who died in WWI and II

Since 1946, Colgate has memorialized the 166 alumni who gave their lives in World Wars I and II by designating the best of each entering class "Alumni Memorial Scholars" (shortened to "AMW" for Alumni Memorial Winner).

     The selection process has changed over the years, and even the name (from Alumni War Memorial), but the principle has remained the same: find those few prospective students (200 this year) whose achievements stand out among a class of applicants that is one of the strongest in the nation, and recognize them in memory of a revered group of alumni.

     Competition for prospective AMWs is high; each year they represent the best students applying to colleges and universities across the nation. Typically, 25 percent of those offered admission as AMWs will enroll.

     In recognition of what they will bring to campus, Colgate meets the full demonstrated financial need of AMWs with scholarship grant (no loans or jobs required). In recent years the college has bolstered the AMW program by offering fellowships to cover the expenses of research or extended study, and by creating informal opportunities for AMWs to meet with faculty and distinguished visitors.

     Herewith, a sampler of comments excerpted from interviews with a half-dozen current Alumni Memorial Scholars in December 1999. JL

Paul Kelleher '01
Freeport, Maine

In February, not even a month after I had applied, I received a letter about the Alumni Memorial Scholar program. The letter said, "We liked what we saw in your application and we would like you to come to Colgate. We think you could bring something to our institution." When they offer to pick up whatever your family can't pay for four years, it's an offer you can't refuse, especially when you come from a lower to middle class background. And then what made it look so attractive were all the other aspects of the program: the breakfasts with visiting scholars, the monthly get-togethers with other AMW students, the close interaction with the administration, the professors Ingrid Hale [associate dean of admission] lines up to speak to us.

     I have taken loans, but only for extras. I am going away on a study group and I've taken out a loan for travel money. But it is pretty much assured that you won't have to take out loans as long as your family can meet whatever Colgate deems they have the ability to pay.

     I'm going on the study group to St. Andrews, Scotland. It is the first time any Colgate group has gone to St. Andrews. We have a great group. Jon Jacobs [associate professor of philosophy] will be the leader. The focus is philosophy and religion. I'm a philosophy major with a political science minor. St. Andrews has two philosophy departments, one is metaphysics and logic and the other is moral philosophy. What a place to be. Other than one trip I took in sixth grade, Colgate is the farthest away from home that I have ever been. So to me, this is going to be like most people going to the moon. It wouldn't be possible without the AMW program.

     I wasn't sure that I was going to be a philosophy major and in fact looked on it at first as something impractical. Then I realized, what could be more practical than being able to justify what you believe?

     I think it is only natural when Colgate has been so generous to you to think that there is something that you must be able to contribute to Colgate. They wouldn't have given you the honor if they didn't think that you would have something to contribute. My first year I wasn't sure what that was going to be. Sophomore year I became a resident adviser and this year I am the head resident of West Hall. In that capacity I feel like I have given back to the community. I think one of the most important things you can do is to surround yourself in the academic environment and let it saturate the needs that you have for knowledge and understanding. More important to me than working for the university, I have taken on the role of what I think is a responsible student. I am really concerned with issues that go on in the classroom, in trying to get to lectures, and just being a conscientious member of the community. Of course, I am still working on it and the whole point is that it is a process.

     It's great to go to a lecture and have your professor for one of your classes sitting right next to you taking notes on the same speaker. And you are both students listening to a teacher and you are both bringing valuable arguments to the table. That discussion does go on even in the midst of the very social climate at Colgate.

Andrea Suarez Falken '03
Washington, DC

First-year Andrea Suarez Falken has been awarded an AMW fellowship to study in Mexico between semesters.

I just wrote a 20-page paper on NAFTA for my core Mexico course. Twenty pages on NAFTA's effect on the Chiapas region of Mexico, particularly the indigenous people and how their lifestyles have been changed for what I found to be the worse because of NAFTA and other policies between our government and their government. So between semesters I am going to Mexico with Global Exchange for a nine-day program called Millennium in Chiapas, from the 28th of December through January 6. I will live in Chiapas with the indigenous people. This is real Mexico, down south. It's poor, we'll see how they live, we'll talk to people, experts, farmers, and get an idea what the situation is like firsthand. Then I will come back and add to my paper. I am really excited.

     What is so shocking to me is that policy makers here don't know enough about the indigenous people to make educated policies. I see all the protests and all the trade liberalization on the news and everything makes sense after the Mexico course. I've gotten so much out of the course. You really feel knowledgeable. Along with getting to know Mexico, it seems all the other problems in Latin America are making so much more sense. I have always been interested in Cuba; my mom's side of the family is Cuban. I have a lot of family still there. I ended up in this Mexico course, it was a fluke, and it was probably one of the best things that has happened to me.

     I had forgotten a bit of Spanish but I have been tutoring and helping out every Thursday down at Hamilton High School. After college I might teach Spanish for a year or two, then I want to go to law school. I want to be a judge. It is the last thing I thought I would want to be but I am very into constitutional law and criminal law.

     Now that I'm here I am really happy. I had to find my crowd. Many of my friends just happen to be AMWs. There is a strong correlation between the substance-free dorm and AMWs. I wrote a commentary in the student newspaper a couple of weeks ago about drinking. I actually got a ton of response. People are strongly into their activities; there is so much leadership.

     I can't not do my very best, it is just how I am. I don't know how to procrastinate; it's something I can't do. Everyone has their own nature and that's one of the things I can't do. I don't know how not to be doing a million things, that's how I do well. I had to get into a lot of activities in the beginning and I had to be working hard in my classes. I can't imagine doing it other ways.

     President Karelis's convocation speech about the difference between work and play, I would agree with exactly what he said, work is my play. I do other things, too. I'm not a total workaholic, but everything I do, I enjoy. The newspaper, tutoring, ushering and stage-managing the theater -- it's fun to go work out, to always be busy. I love the lunch series they have at the Women's Center, and evening lectures, I think they are so awesome. Going to these things is part of living on a college campus.

Alicia Newton '02
Colonie, NY

I applied to 10 colleges, all over the country, including one in southern California. My guidance counselor recommended that I come and visit Colgate. I fell in love with the campus. When I applied I was offered the AMW, which actually helped a lot in making my decision. It meant I wouldn't have to take out loans. I knew I wanted to go on to grad school.

     I always figured I would be a science major, but I didn't figure out what I wanted to major in until second semester. I ended up in two geology courses, with Connie Soja and Karen Harpp, and loved both of them. Eventually I think I might like to work in a laboratory or become a professor.

     When I first got here I didn't really know what to expect. There was the Link program, which was really nice; I got to meet people right away and I am still such good friends with a lot of people from my group.

     I enjoy attending lectures and different AMW receptions with faculty. Ingrid Hale does a great job of setting up events. There are events every week or every other week. I get to maybe one a month. AMW people are usually doing a million things at once; sometimes it's hard to get to some events.

     I sing in University Chorus, Women's Chamber Ensemble and Mixed Chamber Ensemble, and I'm in Experimental Theater. Experimental Theater is a student group run by a senior and a sophomore. Everyone does everything; you write, you're in people's plays, you help stage plays. You get to do everything, it's such a small group. I wrote a play that was performed last semester. Chorus rehearsals are four hours for University, two hours for Women's and two hours for Mixed. It's a big commitment, but it's something I enjoy doing so it is worth it.

     I also joined Tri Delta sorority. Tri Delta doesn't have a house so I live in Curtis Hall. We're almost all sophomores on the fifth floor. There is definitely a sense of community on your hall and the people you live with. We go to dinner together; you just move around with the same people, but you end up making friends from everything you do.

     My first proposal for an AMW fellowship was just approved. I am going to use it to go to Spain on a geology trip. We'll be visiting southern Spain to look at tectonic deformations, and then go to the Canary Islands. It's offered through the geology department, with three professors and 15 or 16 students going in January. It was nice to know that I could apply for a fellowship to do almost anything or go anywhere I wanted. It didn't have to relate to my major at all.

     I would tell future AMW candidates that it is a great opportunity to meet faculty and develop a closer relationship with some of them and to get involved on campus in new ways. The fellowship is also an opportunity that you wouldn't get at many other schools.

     When I'm here, I feel that I have to do my best work. I was given a great opportunity to come to a great school, and I don't want to waste that.

John Chaklader '03
Born in Bangladesh and raised in New York City

A lot of my friends love the city and they would never leave it for anything. I was craving something like Colgate. I love the hills.

     In the last two months I have learned more about life in general and myself. I have encountered so many intelligent people and so many polite people. When I came here I wasn't used to people waving at you who didn't know you. It took me a little while to get used to. It made me feel I wanted to stay here.

     I have started working with Professor Leventer [geology]. She uses this $30,000 microscope sitting on her table to analyze microbial life embedded in the ancient Antarctic sediment. By analyzing these things we come up with the possible climates that were around at that time. That is basically what takes up the bulk of my time aside from physics. I think I am going to major in geology. I love physics and geology. I have always had an interest in volcanology and space. Professor Leventer seems to bring things out with an energy that wasn't there before. I would read the books and I would love it but I never pictured myself looking through a microscope and analyzing these things and coming up with these models in my own head.

     If I see a professor I don't know I walk up to them and find out what they're doing. The professors here bend over backward for you. It's really a faculty that cares. My calculus classes are about one hour long. In the beginning of the year I had a real tough time understanding what was going on. I spent up to two hours with my professor three or four times a week. He's the chairman of the department, Professor Lantz.

     This semester I am taking Physics 120, Calculus I, first level of German, and first-year seminar, The Global Journey. We are analyzing the ethics of nuclear armament and it is an awesome class. I am really learning how to look at the system of how we receive information in a much more critical way. It's got me thinking a lot about our country's policies and how little, even in the democratic system, the public's voice can actually matter in terms of military affairs. That course is really an eye-opener.

     Colgate gives you an amazing flexibility while being a support and background for you, something to lean back on. I was looking for a school that had strong science, but also a school that wouldn't confine me to science -- or to political science at the other end of the spectrum.

     Colgate sent me this acceptance package about a month and a half earlier than I received any of my other responses from the schools that I had applied to.

     It seemed like Colgate was a lot more focused on me as an individual, focused on developing my skills. Everything from the AMW package to my classes to my professors and even to my friends.

     I live in East Hall, a substance-free dorm, and that's the way I like it. Everybody knows each other and everybody is active.

     Within the first two months I have met so many people, so many different people, and yet so many people that I actually share a sense of belonging with. It is really wonderful. That happened much faster than I had expected.

Mauro Tucci '02
Nutley, NJ

I liked the smaller atmosphere at Colgate and the fact that the AMW program would offer me a lot of opportunities like fellowships and financial aid that would be pure grant.

     I have turned in a proposal to go to Rome to meet the Pope with the Newman Community. I would be doing a study of how it affects the faith and the beliefs of the trip participants.

     When we arrive, AMWs don't know each other. Freshman year when you go to one of the first AMW events you tell your friends, "I have to go to a little reception," and when you get there you find all your friends. You put on a suit and tie and head out the door to a reception at Merrill House and there are all your friends going in the same direction, dressed up. I hesitate to say it's a club, but you see the same people at the functions. You get to know them better.

     'Gate House [residence hall] became a very cohesive group. You have halls like Drake or Curtis that are very large or even East and West are very segregated by floors, but 'Gate House is big long hallways and everybody knew everyone and we would go to dinner and see an entire room filled up with 30 'Gate House people. A lot of them were AMWs. We identified with it.

     I might go on the study group to Italy next year. I think I might try to do an internship again with AMW fellowship money for the summer. I am going to keep my options open. I have plenty of time to decide what I want to do.

     Colgate is very rah-rah in terms of school spirit, and that is something that I was able to relate to. Academically, it is of course very strong. Student life on campus, actually that was better than I expected. I had expected it to be not quite so lively, given our pastoral setting. It really turned out well. I expected strong academics, maybe not so great a social life outside the Greek scene even though I went Greek anyway, Phi Tau.

     I went in to talk with Professor Moore [political science] just to get to know her and go over my schedule. I was there for an hour and a half talking about the way Congress is going. You can have a lot of interesting conversations. I sat with my economics professor two semesters ago to discuss the merits of the milk compact in New England and how that would affect upstate New York. You can discuss any number of things as long as you show the pro-fessors that you are interested. They are always open; they're always there.

     I find that many of my intellectual discussions come between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. My roommate and I will sit up until dawn talking about just about anything, a lot of politics, national and local. And there are a couple of other people who will stop by.

     I ran for president of the student body as a freshman. I knew I wouldn't win, but I think I was successful in that I got the issues discussed that were most pressing on the campus.

Jillian Hooper '01
Brooklyn, NY

I received my AMW letter in January or February -- earlier than we got our other college acceptances. It made Colgate a lot more attractive because the program itself was really interesting. And just knowing they really wanted me as much as I wanted them meant a lot.

     The college was just beginning to offer AMW fellowships and research grants for the summer. I didn't think I could afford to do summer research because I would have to work. But Colgate said that they would fund any research that we wanted to do as AMWs. I hope to do a project in politics and race this summer for Professor Wagner and Professor Moore in political science.

     I'm on the Manchester Study Group now. Next semester I will be on the Washington Study Group, interning in Congress and at the Health Care Finance Agency. It will be hard being away for a full year because I love Colgate. But one big reason why I came to Colgate was the Washington Study Group. Then when I discovered we could go abroad I decided I would take both.

     Manchester has been amazing. We have traveled so much and seen so many different things. We're taking a class here with Professor Pinet [geology] on ethics and technology in the wilderness -- basically about ethics and how we use technology. It has changed the outlook of 12 people dramatically. We also take a core class in the history and technology of Manchester. And I am taking race and racism in Europe and controversial feminism.

     I knew that I wanted to be a political science major. I met Professor Wagner at one AMW event and also Professor Hayes, who is head of the department. I had two of his classes. Professor Hayes talked to me about getting ready for LSATs because I want to go to law school.

     My mother always says, "To whom much is given, much is required." I definitely know I have been given a lot and the opportunities are immense, and I know that a lot of people would love to be in my position, so I feel I have to give 100 percent. Especially because my professors have been so good, I do feel that I have an obligation to give back or at least give as much as I can.

     For most of my life I've had opportunities that I know so many people who come from where I come from don't have. Just leaving Brooklyn to go to boarding school, and then to Colgate, and then to be an AMW, and then two study groups -- I definitely know that I've been given a lot more than most people have. I try to give back as much.

     I was on the executive board of the Student Senate last year. I helped run the Colgate Groove, along with Migdalia Feliberty '01 and some others. I dance with Kuumba. I work for admissions in my free time. I worked with the Women's Studies Center my whole freshman year. I work with the ALANA Cultural Center. I am also in the core group of African American Student Association and Latin American Student Association.

     I would tell students to expect a talented place with a world of opportunity. Colgate is definitely what you want from it. If you take everything it has to offer it is the most amazing place. There are so many resources. It is not an easy place; it's tough, but the opportunities make up for all the late hours and papers.

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