Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sarah Claypool, Washington College's 2009 Frederick Douglass Fellow, Explores Native American Healing Practices

Chestertown – Mainstream American culture has gleaned many things from the first residents of this land – including a rich body of medicinal lore and healing wisdom. The quest for this knowledge has been a journey filled with discovery for Sarah Claypool '10, this year’s recipient of the prestigious Frederick Douglass Fellowship at Washington College. Now in its fifth year, the Frederick Douglass Fellowship supports independent student work in African-American studies, Native American studies, and related fields. The fellowship, which provides an annual grant of up to $1,500 to a Washington College sophomore or junior and a $500 honorarium to a faculty mentor paired with the student, is administered through the College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. “Sarah is a chemistry major, and her fellowship project allowed her to reach out beyond the conventional boundaries of the sciences and investigate how medicine intersects with history and culture," said Adam Goodheart, the Starr Center's Hodson Trust-Griswold Director. "Fellowships like this one encourage students and their faculty mentors to explore new fields and disciplines, in the keeping with the best traditions of the liberal arts."

Claypool’s project, “Blending the Old with the New: Influence of Native American Healing on Western Medicinal Practices,” yielded a cornucopia of revelations, both medical and sociological – from the value of cranberries as an arrow-wound cure to the respective roles of the shaman and the elder woman in society. Claypool unearthed an indigenous pharmacopia of hundreds of herbs, crops, tree barks and other gifts from nature, many of which – such as ginseng and echinacea – can be found on the shelves of health-food stores today.

In the holistic approach of traditional Native American cultures, Claypool found, spiritual purification was a vital component of physical wellness. The goal, then as now, was a better life through better health. As a Hopi blessing put it, “May you be happy, may you be free of any illness, may you reach old age, and may you pass peacefully on in your sleep.”

Sarah Claypool and Dr. Anne Marteel-Parrish

Claypool, a Class of 2010 chemistry major with a particular interest in pharmacology, worked closely on the project with her faculty mentor, Dr. Anne Marteel-Parrish, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, who found herself swept up in the excitement of the quest. “Sarah was so enthusiastic and passionate about the project that she pushed me to keep up with her findings,” Dr. Marteel-Parrish said. “Her project contributed to an in-depth understanding of the influence of Native American healing on Western medicinal practices from a spiritual, chemical and medicinal point of view.”

“When I was chosen to be the Frederick Douglass Fellow, I knew that I was given this amazing opportunity to expand my horizons in the field of research,” said Claypool. “What I did not expect however, was that the more knowledge I gained over the semester, the more I wanted to know, which in turn has driven me to make numerous connections and continue my research into my senior year.”

The Douglass Fellowship was established to encourage students to develop independent projects exploring the culture and history of diverse sections of the American population. Each year, during the spring semester, it also brings to campus a visiting professional (scholar, writer, musician, or artist) actively engaged in the study or interpretation of African American history and related fields. This year’s Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow, political journalist and author Fraser Smith, spent a week in residence at Washington College visiting classes, discussing his recent book on Maryland’s distinctive contributions to the civil rights movement, and talking with student journalists about the future of the field. Both fellowships are supported by gifts from Maurice Meslans and Margaret Holyfield of St. Louis.

The author, activist and diplomat Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), for whom the fellowship was named, was born in Talbot County, Md., about 30 miles south of Washington College, and retained a deep attachment to the Eastern Shore until the end of his life.

Click here to see photos of Sarah's presentation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Spy returns to Chestertown

After 216 years, the Chestertown Spy, the first newspaper printed in the Eastern Shore town of 4,800, is being published again, this time online, at:


A handful of Washington College alumni and community members have created an internet newsite to provide up-to-date news Monday through Friday for the Chester River community.

Publisher & Editor Dave Wheelan, ’78, a former Vice President of Washington College, returned from San Francisco last March to start the new website.

In addition to the regular weekday editions of the Chestertown Spy, there will be a fortnightly companion section that highlights the arts, home and garden, food, and poetry.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Solstice Kayaking at Eastern Neck Island

Chestertown, MD — The Center for Environment & Society (CES) at Washington College and the Friends of Eastern Neck, Inc., are sponsoring a paddle at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, June 20, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The group will meet at Bogles Wharf, a public landing on Eastern Neck Island, to celebrate the summer solstice and learn more about the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay. The event is free and open to the
public. Bring your own kayak, PFD, and paddle. Or pre-register by June 16 to reserve Washington College equipment. To register, or for more information, contact CES Project Manager Mark Wiest at mwiest2@washcoll.edu or 410-810-7488.

The Center for Environment & Society works to instill a conservation ethic by connecting people to the land and water. It supports interdisciplinary research and education, exemplary stewardship of natural and cultural resources, and the integration of ecological and social values. For more information, visit ces.washcoll.edu or call 410-810-7161.

The Friends of Eastern Neck, Inc. is a non-profit organization that supports the missions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge through financial, advocacy, and volunteer support. To learn more about volunteer opportunities through the Friends of Eastern Neck, Inc. visit
www.fws.gov/northeast/easternneck/ or call (410) 639-7056.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Audio of WC's Josh Shenk on NPR's "Talk of the Nation"

For those of you who missed Rose O'Neill Literary House Director Joshua Wolf Shenk on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" yesterday, you can listen to the broadcast by going to the following link:


...and clicking on "Listen Live."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sarah Ofosu-Ameyaw, New Student Body President, Also Selected As Washington College's Presidential Fellow

Chestertown – The word “presidential” is looming large in the life of Washington College student Sarah Ofosu-Ameyaw these days – in addition to having been elected as the incoming student body president, the rising senior also has been selected as the recipient of the College’s 2009-2010 Robert W. and Louisa C. Duemling Presidential Study Fellowship.
Since 2007, thanks to a generous gift from Robert W. and Louisa C. Duemling, Washington College students have participated in the prestigious Presidential Fellows Program at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.
An annual institute open to one student from each of 85 leading American colleges and universities, the program offers an up-close and personal view of the American presidency second only to a job in the White House. Through Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, this special opportunity is open to WC students.
“I’m delighted that Sarah will have this opportunity to study in Washington, especially since this is such a fascinating moment in the history of the American presidency,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center. Ofosu-Ameyaw was selected by a faculty committee that included representatives from Political Science, International Studies, American Studies and History.
“It’s especially nice that her academic project will unfold at the same time that she is serving as the student body’s own ‘chief executive,’” Goodheart said. “I’ll be curious to hear from Sarah about how these two experiences inform one another.”
Ofosu-Ameyaw, who emigrated to the United States from Ghana during her middle school years, is pursuing a double major in political science and psychology, and is a member of both disciplines’ honor societies at Washington College. Her newly minted role as student body president was preceded by a noteworthily active involvement in campus life and governance: an executive board member of the Student Government Association, a member of the Student Life Committee, a member of the Diversity Committee, recording secretary for the Triathlon Club, and a member of the Black Student Union.
In addition to having served as Secretary of Diversity and a Multicultural Student Peer Mentor, Ofosu-Ameyaw works as an office aide and tour guide for the Department of Admissions.
Her campus political career has been enriched by external experience as well. As a legislative intern for Delegate Victor Ramirez of the Maryland General Assembly, Ofosu-Ameyaw juggles a variety of duties: conducting research, preparing reports, responding to constituent inquiries, tracking bills of importance, composing newsletters and press releases, and much more.
“I was so excited when I found out I received the fellowship,” Ofosu-Ameyaw said. “Aspects of the American presidency are so interesting to me, and to have the opportunity to do this sort of research is thrilling.”
With its inclusion into the Presidential Fellows Program in 2007, Washington College joined a distinguished roster of participating American colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton. For more than 35 years, the Presidential Fellows have been coming to Washington, D.C., to learn about leadership and governance, to share their outstanding research and scholarship, to develop as future leaders of character, and to be inspired to careers in public service.
Washington College’s participation in the program comes courtesy of a generous gift from longtime friends and benefactors of the College – Robert W. and Louisa C. Duemling.
Robert Duemling is former U.S. Ambassador to Suriname and former Director of the National Building Museum. In addition to having taught in Washington College's Department of Art, he is a Board of Visitors and Governors member emeritus and is Chairman of the Starr Center's Advisory Board.
Louisa Duemling is a former director of E.I. duPont deNemours & Company, where she provided guidance for many years to the third largest chemical manufacturer in the nation. She is a former trustee of the Maryland/D.C. chapter of the Nature Conservancy, a former advisory committee member of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and a former director of the Corcoran Gallery and the National Parks Foundation.
Established in 2000 with a grant from the New York-based Starr Foundation, the C.V. Starr Center explores our nation’s history – and particularly the legacy of its Founding era – in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America’s democratic experiment.
In addition to the Presidential Fellows Program, the Starr Center also offers a range of special programs and extracurricular opportunities to Washington College students, including the Comegys Bight Fellowships and Frederick Douglass Fellowships, as well as weekend road trips and summer programs. For more information, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.