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Fall 2011 Presidential Scholars

Introducing the Fall 2011 Semester at Sea Presidential Scholars:

In the near future, I would like to work with a variety of social institutions and corporations, as an international corporate attorney. My focus will ultimately be to help these organizations become more efficient by fully embracing the concept of “Going Green.” As a project I would like to answer the following question: Are people from around the world aware of this concept and if so to what degree? I plan to do this by developing a theses based on my observation in our various international ports. – Natanael Burgos

Both as a tutor and as a student myself, I’ve long been fascinated by the psychological, sociological, and logistical factors that facilitate learning. My research in Moroccan, Ghanaian, and Indian villages will assess the institutions for and attitudes concerning education among students, parents, and teachers in order to better understand the educational climate in each culture. In addition to developing an educational profile for each location, I will analyze which factors are most highly correlated with academic success, and formulate specific recommendations to address each community’s most pressing educational needs. – Laura Goydich

My excitement for the opportunity to sail around the world with Semester at Sea was tempered by the reality that most people I know could never dream of taking this trip, just as I couldn’t have without the generosity of the Presidential scholarship. My goal became to replicate my experience as much as possible for the many people who would love to travel but cannot. I am corresponding with an elementary school in my Kentucky home town, maintaining a daily blog that my community can access to learn about the places and things I see, and writing columns back to the Kentucky Kernel, a student paper with a readership of about 30,000, in an attempt to promote traveling abroad in my community. I’m also challenging my fellow SAS students, especially those who are from areas with a low SAS recruitment rate, to adopt a nursing home, children’s hospital, detention center, sporting team or scout troop in their home towns to correspond with so that we can share our good fortune of traveling on the MV Explorer with those for which this voyage would be a dream come true. ‚Äì Martha Groppo

I decided to focus on orphanages and orphans. My topic will be to find out conditions and numbers of orphans in countries such as Ghana, South Africa, India and Vietnam. Apart from that, I will try to look for possible solutions there. I will use my contacts from all around the world to make some projects in the future in some of these countries. Life is about giving. – Natasa Kurucki

I am currently going to different ports and interviewing different shelters to figure out if they have any unaccompanied (homeless) youth. If they do have unaccompanied youth, I want to find out how their government and community organizations help meet the needs of this population. – Kamel Lovejoy

Operation Global Swap is finally beginning to take its turn towards success. I have had the opportunity to brief most of the shipboard community, explaining my project and sharing my experiences, and have generates excellent feedback throughout the shipboard community. We have some very supportive folks on board and I am looking forward to developing a motivated team to help Global Swap be a success and a great start to a lifetime model of giving back. Swap Morocco in 36 hours! – Brian P. Morris SrA, Combat Weather Forecaster, US Air Force, VA Nat’l Guard

Winning Hearts and Minds: Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue – In the ten years since 9/11, there has been a desperate need for a dialogue aimed towards fostering understanding between individuals of different cultural and religious backgrounds, particularlty in the “West” and the “Muslim World.” The Sunday before we arrive in Ghana will be the 10th year anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, which is why I am starting an interfaith group that will work on kicking off this dialogue. This group open to everyone and anyone with a story to share is a great way to foster cross cultural and religious understanding and commemorate the memory of all the victims of 9/11 and the backlash thereafter. This past decade has been fraught with burning bridges. I want to start building them. ‚Äì Mobasshir Poonawalla

My research project is comprised of interviewing individuals in South Africa, India, and Vietnam to better understand how the concept of solidarity functions practically in their lives. Because of IRB (Institutional Review Board) regulations, much of preparation had to take place before getting on the ship. Since arriving, I’ve been double-checking all of my interview materials and getting ready for my first round of interviews that will take place in Capetown, South Africa. – James Wykowski


The philosophy of my former school, to educate “globally minded learners and leaders,” and my study of economics and, particularly microeconomics, furthered my appreciation of the importance of understanding the structure of a culture before conceiving of a project that can be effectively implemented. My project therefore focuses on the “Girl Effect,” which promotes a greater role for women and girls in reducing global poverty. I look to work with Global Mamas, an organization in Ghana that helps women in microfinance businesses. Specifically, I hope to begin conversations with them regarding potential ways to increase distribution channels. ‚Äì Jenna Zerker


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