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Burchard Scholars Announced

By Laura Moulton

MIT's ever-growing commitment to the humanities took another step forward this week when a record twenty-seven sophomores and juniors were named Burchard Scholars for 1999.

The scholars come from a wide variety of majors, but all share the sense that humanities are central to their lives. Students were selected based on demonstrated interest and excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Burchard Scholar Eric L. Gunther '00, an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science major, called the humanities "an integral component of my daily life," adding that music "at times preserves my sanity."

Mechanical Engineering major Martin N. Mbaya '00 plans to use his knowledge of urban studies and planning in his native Kenya.

EECS major Janelle K. Prevost '00 comes from an English-speaking Caribbean island with two French-speaking neighbors. She hopes to use her French language and literature studies to facilitate communication between the islands.

Philosophy and Linguistics major Jasper J. Chen '00 is planning a career "addressing the medical needs of the poor and the underprivileged." Chen said that he values opportunities such as the Burchard Scholar series because "a solid grounding in the humanities will ensure that one applies science and technology to society in more humanitarian ways."

Program includes seminar series

Burchard Scholars will attend a series of dinners and seminars with faculty whose research involves the humanities.

The scholars' hopes for the series are high. Rachel Stanley '00 is anticipating "delightful dinners" and "stimulating conversation."

Citing the diversity of backgrounds of the participants, Katherine C. Liu '00 said she is "looking forward to heated debates and an exchange of ideas" at the dinner-seminars.

"MIT has an uncanny way of dumbing down one's sensitivity to the aesthetic, human, and emotional elements of the world around us; this scholarship is an opportunity for vital exposure to the unquantifiable aspects of life, and to people who are interested in the things that really move us," said Kelly V. Brogan '00.

Dean of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences School Philip S. Khoury and Professor of History Bruce Mazlish established the scholarships in 1985 in honor of the school's first dean, John E. Burchard. The program aims "to enrich intellectual life in the humanities, arts, and social sciences at MIT through dialogue and discourse," Khoury said.

The application for the scholarship involves an essay and a faculty recommendation, and is described as straightforward and even enjoyable by the scholars. Gunther even suggested adding an additional question so that applicants could demonstrate more than one facet of their interest in the humanities.

Between 75 and 90 students usually apply for the program. No preference is given to students majoring in the humanities. Khoury says that the "vast majority are in engineering and science," although many minor or double major in the humanities.

Other Burchard Scholars include: Jonna B. Anderson '00, Jason M. Chicola '00, Benjamin K. Chun '00, Sharmin Ghaznavi '00, Madhulika Jain '00, Risat A. Jannat '00, Marie L. Kosely '01, Jason W. Krug '01, Berta L. Liao '00, David A. Matsa '00, Xiaomin Mou '00, Richard L. Possemato '01, Millie S. Roy '00, Krzysztof J. Rybak '00, Andreas Sundquist '01, Gaurav Tewari '00, Jason H. Wasfy '01, Jonathan E. Woon '00, and David M. Zych '00.