Trio Takes Top National Honors

Prestigious national awards went to three Scripps students this spring to enable them to pursue their individual areas of academic research. Irene Keliher, Jennifer von Reis, and Allison V. Thompkins have been awarded a Watson, a Fulbright, and a Truman Fellowship, respectively. All three women receive a monetary award to fund independent study and related travel, and each will ultimately present their findings to a committee of scholars.

Scripps senior Irene Keliher (manager at the Motley coffeehouse) was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which she will use to investigate fair trade coffee. Her research will take her to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, and Bolivia, where she will trace the roots and implications of fair trade coffee from the plantation to the buyers, traders, and roasters, among others. Keliher, along with 47 students from select colleges, earned her Watson Fellowship based on several criteria including demonstrated integrity, imagination, strong ethical character, intelligence, the capacity for vision and leadership, the promise of creative achievement and excellence within a chosen field, and the potential for humane and effective participation in the world community. Keliher will receive a one year $22,000 grant for independent study and travel outside the United States.

Scripps senior Jennifer von Reis has been awarded one of ten Fulbright Full Grants to study in Finland. Von Reis’s project, “Women in Mathematics in Finland,” will have her working with the European Women in Mathematics Organization as assistant to Dr. Mario Lipponen, regional program director. Von Reis will study Finnish and European female mathematicians, a profession and field that has grown extensively over the last 50 years. Her nine-month stay includes academic classes, personal interaction with professional mathematicians, and language and cultural immersion; her Finnish trip begins with an orientanon in Helsinki in August 2003. Although most Fulbright awards go to graduate students for advanced study in a particular discipline, von Reis’s unique proposal and outstanding undergraduate academic record won her the grant.

In the highly competitive Western Region, Scripps senior Allison V. Thompkins has been awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship based on criteria of both potential and demonstrated leadership and commitment to public service, intellectual ability, and likelihood of “making a difference.” Thompkins’ winning proposal, “Using Financial Accounting Statements to Improve Incentives for Hiring Disabled People,” aims to change the rules of financial reporting to better reflect employer investments in training, and other expenses to enable physically disabled persons to enter the workplace and succeed. Thompkins, who was born with cerebral palsy and is a published and longtime advocate for the disabled, argues that such changes can create a relatively cost free and politically acceptable incentive to increase employment rates among this under-employed segment of society. Through the Truman program, Thompkins, along with 76 other scholars, will receive $3,000 towards tuition for her senior year and $27,000 for graduate study, as well as a summer internship opportunity in Washington, D.C.