Students credit mentors for
their post-graduate honors
By Anne Bromley
and Scotland are the destinations for two U.Va. undergraduates
who plan to work on human rights issues in different areas next
by Rebecca Arrington
affairs major Ryann Collins will go to Cambodia with a Luce
scholarship to help investigate Khmer Rouge war crimes. Political
and social thought major James Meyerle won a fellowship to St.
Andrews University to study the Scottish Enlightenment and questions
fourth-year students credit Michael J. Smith, the Thomas C. Sorenson
Professor of Political and Social Thought, as one of their most
positive influences at U.Va. He fostered a sense of responsibility
in all of us as members of the human community, Meyerle
said. Smiths class on ethics and human rights made a strong
impact on Collins, she said, as did James Sofkas course
on international law.
these students care deeply about ideas and about making
a vital connection between their ideas and the lives they lead,
Smith said. I am delighted that they will have the opportunity
to pursue their work in a challenging setting.
as an intern with the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in Rwanda
was one of the keys to Collins getting the Luce scholarship. Another
was the principal of the International
Residential College, Brad Brown, an associate professor of
commerce, who encouraged her to pursue this particular award.
would never have applied if I wasnt in the International
Residential College, said Collins, who lives there this
year. In addition to Browns support, the College Fellowships
Office has been great and helped by doing mock interviews,
she said. Its exciting to compete on a national level
and represent the University of Virginia.
Henry Luce Foundation considers non-specialists in Asian studies
for year-long internships and jobs that will allow them to experience
and appreciate Asian culture. It selects 18 people a year. Collins
is the seventh U.Va. student to receive one of these scholarships.
it has been more than 25 years since the Khmer Rouge tried to
take over the country through a campaign of terror and violence,
there has been mixed support for using an international tribunal
to bring the groups members to justice. Collins, who will
learn Khmer this summer, said shell probably help local
courts pursue that work.
commitment to human rights activism helps her not be afraid of
spending time in areas most tourists wouldnt dream of visiting.
If you go in with an open mind and get involved with the
people, they respond and treat you well, said the experienced
world traveller. She has also offered her skills to refugees relocated
here, teaching English to people who have left war-torn countries,
such as the former Yugoslavia, Myanmar and Congo. She works through
the International Rescue Committees Charlottesville office.
strength of Ryanns character makes her stand out as a potential
Luce Scholar and as a human being, wrote Nicole Hurd, director
of U.Va.s Office for Fellowships and Undergraduate Research,
in her recommendation. She is not naïve about the complexities
of the field she has chosen to pursue conflict resolution.
She does not believe in simple answers.
human rights on a different path, James Meyerle has a dream to
become a judge one day, and the St. Andrews fellowship will
help him further that ambition. A native of Boulder, Colo. Meyerle
wanted to come to U.Va. after visiting his older brother in school
here. James eventually decided to go into the Political and Social
Thought Program and is writing his senior thesis on justice and
known Jim since he was my first-year advisee, and then as a vital
participant in the program in political and social thought,
Smith said. Jim has a kind of restless, even relentless,
intellectual curiosity. He refuses to adopt conventional wisdom
almost on principle and he has always proven willing to
first U.Va. student to receive this award, Meyerle will concentrate
on philosophy for the year and earn a Masters in Literature.
Some of the ethical questions hell focus on include how
we treat others and what it means to be a good person.
David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment fits in with my thesis,
St. Andrews Society, nearing its 300th anniversary, is one
of the oldest clubs in the U.S., established to help Scottish
immigrants and now offering aid in the form of scholarships and
public service. Meyerle, who has never been to Scotland, claims
his Scottish heritage on his mothers side.
hed like to work for a couple years after getting his Masters,
he hopes to start the fifth generation of attorneys in his family,
become a litigator and go before juries.
be a judge, you need to be an academic, to grasp the big issues,
he said of his ultimate goal. The court and jury system
is what makes this country work.