Senior Receives Distinguished Student Researcher Award

In recognition of the exceptional environmental research she performed while studying abroad during the spring of 2015, The School for Field Studies (SFS) has presented its Distinguished Student Researcher Award to Kayla Deur ’16. She was recognized for the research project she conducted at the SFS Center for Mekong Studies in Cambodia.

Each year, the SFS honors a student from the Center who has demonstrated extraordinary skill in contributing to the Center’s research agenda, as evidenced by their Directed Research (DR) paper, oral presentations, and approach to the research project. The award not only cites excellence and diligence in research, but also teamwork and leadership shown during the semester. Outcomes of the projects provide information and recommendations to community members and other stakeholders on critical, local environmental issues.

Deur explored the usage of traditional medicine on a household level, as well as how traditional knowledge is being transmitted cross-generationally and spatially across village domains. According to Lisa Granese, SFS vice president for enrollment and institutional relations, “Her work provides a sound foundation for future research at the Center, and Professor Lisa Arensen, Deur’s DR advisor, comments that her project ‘is an impressive example of undergraduate research.'” Through her work, Deur contributed to a growing list of plants that were indicated as medicinally important by locals.

SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Its educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by its local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where people live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship.


Senior One of Only Ten Students Nationwide to Receive Saudi Arabia Exchange Fellowship

Hollins University senior Pavithra Suresh has been awarded a Saudi Arabia Exchange Fellowship/Malone Fellowship by the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR), a non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American understanding of the Arab world.

The fellowship provides an all-expenses-paid study trip to Saudi Arabia between December 26, 2015 and January 6, 2016. During the subsequent 2016 fellowship year, Suresh and other fellows will engage in a variety of activities in order to share their new-found knowledge of Saudi Arabia with the American public.

Hollins Professor of Political Science Ed Lynch, who recommended Suresh for the fellowship, noted that “only ten students nationwide are selected for this exceptional learning opportunity each year. Pavithra will be a great representative of Hollins University.”

Applicants must have previously participated in Model Arab League, NCUSAR’s flagship student leadership development program that is similar to Model United Nations. Suresh was a member of the Hollins delegation that took part in the Southeast Regional Model Arab League at Converse College in March. She and teammate Emily Garcia ’18 were named Best Delegation for their work on the Palestinian Affairs Council

Hollins is hosting the Appalachia Regional Model Arab League, November 6 – 8. The conference is open to high school as well as college and university students.


Junior Year Abroad Programs Will Remain at Sweet Briar College

Hollins University President Nancy Gray and Sweet Briar College President Phillip Stone have announced an agreement to transition Sweet Briar’s Junior Year Abroad programs in France and Spain (JYF and JYS) back to their original home.

The agreement is effective immediately.

Hollins agreed to serve as the host institution for JYF and JYS after Sweet Briar’s previous Board of Directors voted in late February to close the college at the end of August 2015. Since that time, Stone said, “Hollins has invested a significant amount of financial and human resources to prevent any gaps in maintaining these highly respected programs. Indeed, these programs are strongly positioned for continued success.”

In accepting responsibility for JYF and JYS, Hollins agreed that if Sweet Briar stayed open, the programs would return to the college. At the request of Sweet Briar, Gray and her administration agreed to continue hosting both programs until Sweet Briar’s new board and administration felt the college was ready to resume their operation.

Stone recently informed Hollins that Sweet Briar is prepared to run the programs this year. He said he and Gray will work closely to ensure no disruption in service to students enrolled in the programs.

“The friendship and support of President Gray and Hollins throughout this difficult time have been extraordinary,” Stone said. “To keep JYF and JYS from being lost in the planned closing of Sweet Briar, Hollins went to great expense and trouble. I am truly grateful for this and the many other actions Hollins took to help Sweet Briar and its students and faculty when it appeared our school would be closing.

“I hope our close relationship will continue for many years.”

Gray emphasized that there was never a question about Hollins stepping in to help.

“We appreciate the special, longstanding friendship we have with Sweet Briar,” she said. “Like so many others, we were very sad at the prospect of the closing of our sister school. We wanted to help in any way we could.

“We join all of Sweet Briar’s friends in supporting the decision to remain open. Our two schools will work closely together in the coming days to smoothly transition JYF and JYS back to Sweet Briar. And, we are both committed to finding ways to work together in the future.”

For more information about Sweet Briar’s Junior Year Abroad programs, visit the JYF website at jyf.sbc.edu and JYS at jys.sbc.edu.