Donovan Scholars Research the World

Today's undergraduate experience entails much more than just coursework. Students are involved in cultural and leadership organizations, service learning and volunteerism, internships and study abroad. And for our most ambitious students, the opportunity to conduct research is a highly sought-after experience.

Undergraduates benefit from the University of Minnesota's status as one of the world's great research universities, giving students the chance to work closely with a faculty mentor. Through research, students challenge themselves, learn more about their strengths and interests, and explore possible career paths.

In the Department of History, we are fortunate to offer students the Hedley Donovan Scholarship to support exceptional research. Established nearly 20 years ago, the Donovan Scholarship is one of our most generous and prestigious awards for undergraduates. The scholarship is named after Hedley Donovan, a native of Brainerd, Minnesota, and 1934 alumnus. A magna cum laude graduate and Rhodes scholar, Donovan had a distinguished career as a journalist and presidential adviser. After beginning his career as a Washington Post reporter, he rose to become editor of Fortune magazine and editor-in-chief at Time, Inc.

Our 2011-2012 Donovan Scholars, Andrew Larkin, Maria May, and Joseph Whitson, each crafted a detailed plan of study for their individual research projects. They worked with faculty sponsors to shape their research topics and questions, which are broad and diverse, reflecting the unique interests of each student.


Andrew Larkin climbs a tree at a farm in Loum, Cameroon.

The Donovan Scholarship allowed Andrew Larkin to travel to Cameroon and Paris over the summer to conduct research on French public investment in Cameroon both before and after Cameroon's independence. Andrew is currently applying for a Fulbright scholarship and hopes to complete a master's degree at the University of Manchester after graduation, and later pursue either a history doctorate or law degree.

MariaMay.jpgMaria May is a first generation Lithuanian-American and chose to study history because of her Eastern European background and personal interest in post-war Europe. The Donovan Scholarship allowed Maria to live and research in Hungary for two months this summer. She recorded oral histories of people who participated in the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, which will complement the interviews she also conducted with Hungarian émigrés living in Minnesota.

JoeWhitson.jpgA double major in history and global studies, Joe Whitson has worked as a community advisor in his dorm and as a guide at the Bell Museum of Natural History. He is also vice president of the History Club. With Donovan funding, Joe spent the summer in southwestern Virginia, analyzing Appalachian music and folklore. His research looks at how the land and culture of Appalachia - including major factors like coal mining, logging, and labor movements - has changed and molded the iconic folk and bluegrass music of the area. Joe plans to pursue a graduate degree in history or anthropology.

There is no question the Donovan scholarships make a significant difference for these students. As Maria says, "I am very grateful to the Donovan family for continuing to make this generous scholarship available for projects outside the ordinary scope of undergraduate work. It has provided many unique opportunities for students to experience historical work in the real world, adding immeasurably to the excellent history curriculum at the U."

African colonial independence and economics. Eastern European unrest against Soviet policies. Regional folk music and culture in the Eastern U.S. Very different topics, to be sure. But the common thread is the opportunity Joe, Maria, and Andrew have embraced to dig deep into challenging questions of history, to let their curiosity lead them to surprising and unexpected discoveries, and to develop further as students and scholars. A scholarship such as the Donovan supports much more than travel expenses. It allows students to take time off from their jobs, providing the resources to conduct in-depth research in far-flung areas. And it allows a potentially life-changing experience of inquiry and self-discovery, something we hope the college years foster for all of our students.



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This page contains a single entry by Kelly O'Brien published on November 4, 2011 9:22 AM.

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