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Davidson Student and Staff Member Win Rotary Scholarships

November 10, 2000
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

Two members of the Davidson College community, Assistant Dean of Admissions Warren Buford and senior student Justin Perkinson, have recently been awarded Ambassadorial Scholarships worth $23,000 each for one year of study abroad by the Rotary Foundation, a charitable arm of Rotary International.
Justin Perkinson with Rotary International President
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Justin Perkinson had the opportunity to meet Rotary International President Frank Devlyn at a recent Rotary Foundation banquet in Charlotte.

Buford and Perkinson are among 1,200 scholars selected from across the globe to study in more than 64 different nations next year, and add their names to of a long roster of Davidsonians who have been recognized by the Rotary Foundation since the Ambassadorial program began in 1947.

Buford, a member of Davidson's Class of 1997, currently serves as the college's senior assistant dean of admissions and director of multicultural recruitment. He intends to explore long-held interests in ethnic relations and conflict resolution as his Rotary project.

Living in Kenya during his high school years, Buford attended an international school, and lived in an environment that fostered his interest in diversity and international relations. At Davidson, he was a political science major with a concentration in ethnic studies. During his junior year he traveled to South Africa to study race relations in newly integrated high schools.

"I have always been interested in how people of different backgrounds relate to each other and how conflicts can be resolved," he said.

Buford hopes build on his experiences at Davidson, both as a student and as a staff member, and use them in an educational setting. His Rotary scholarship will allow him to study at the University of Capetown or the University of Witswater in South Africa.

Perkinson, a Davidson senior from Richmond, Va., will take his Rotary journey to Argentina, Chile or Uruguay, where he will study the "desaparecidos"--political prisoners who were executed by oppressive military governments in South America in the 1970s.

His interest in the subject was sparked last spring by Isabel Allende's book, De Amor y De Sombra, a fictional account of life under military rule in Chile seen through the eyes of the daughter of a wealthy family and the son of a Spanish exile. He hopes to learn about the history and politics of the "desaparecidos" as well as the their unique place in literature.

Perkinson has cultivated his interests in the Spanish language and in international issues and awareness for many years. He looks forward to improving his language skills during his year abroad, and continuing to use those skills when he returns. He also hopes to carry out Rotary's mission of establishing international awareness, cultural understanding, and a commitment to serve the community, during and after his scholarship year.

"I would like to become a better leader and server of the community, which will be a life-long vocation," he said.

He is already a noted leader in the Davidson College community as president of the college's Honor Council, volunteer translator in the Logan Family Resources Center and StrongTower free medical clinic, and holder of a William Holt Terry Scholarship.

Justin is an English major and a Spanish minor. He has starred in college productions of "Jesus Christ Superstar" as Peter, and "Romeo and Juliet" as Mercutio. Additionally, he has been a varsity wrestler, a Southern Conference Student Athlete Award recipient, an admissions department tour guide, and a volunteer for "Into the Streets" and "Steps into the Hispanic Community."

Among the many other Davidson College students, staffers, and faculty who have studied abroad under the auspices of the Rotary Foundation are Professor of French Homer Sutton '71, Trustee David Waddill '81, and Assistant Dean of Community Service Ruth Pittard.

Other recent scholars include Chad Foster '98, who studied international relations in Geneva, Switzerland, and Jennifer Klotz '99, who traveled to Africa to study Third World medical challenges. Elizabeth Holt '00 is currently enjoying a year in France.

"Davidson College students always make a great impression," said Julius Melton, a member of the Rotary Club's district selection committee and a senior associate in the college relations department. Melton, who has been a member of the Charlotte Rotary Club since 1973, is himself a former Ambassadorial Scholar, having spent the 1959-60 school year at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

The Ambassadorial Scholarships Program is the Rotary Foundation's oldest and best-known program, and is the world's largest privately funded international scholarships program. Since its first year, more than 30,000 men and women from 100 nations have studied abroad under its auspices.

At least four Davidson faculty members have been selected for another Rotary program, receiving $10,000 "Grants for University Teachers." The program is intended to build international understanding and foster development while strengthening higher education in low-income countries. The program also aims to establish ties between higher education institutions, leading to the exchange of ideas and information across the globe.

Nancy Fairley, associate professor of anthropology and director of the ethnic studies program, taught ethnic and race relations in the sociology department at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. Although Fairley had been to Ghana on previous occasions to lead a Davidson summer study program there, she had never taught Ghanaian students. "This program is a great opportunity for developing countries that don't have the resources to develop education programs," she said.

Other professors who have participated in the same program include Professor David Martin of the economics department, Professor Job Thomas of the history department, and Associate Professor Lakhi Sabaratnam of the sociology department. All three of them taught in India.

Through scholarships and grants, Rotary hope to increase awareness of and respect for cultural differences, instill the Rotary ideal of "service above self," and develop leaders who can address the humanitarian needs of the world community.

"The idea is for individuals to interact in a fashion that creates international goodwill," Melton explained.

For more information on Rotary Scholarship Programs visit www.rotary.org (click on "Rotary Foundation" and then "Study Programs").

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by "U.S. News and World Report" magazine.

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