When Pamela Daniels ’59 addressed the members of the class of 2000 at their commencement, she included these words: “Each of you must take seriously the needs and yearnings of her own inner life, for this is your essential, bedrock resource. You must nourish and care for it as if your life depended on it—for it does.”
Daniels’ speech was her final advice to students before she retired as a class dean, a position she had held since 1981. In her honor, her classmates, family, friends, and former students endowed the Pamela Daniels ’59 Fellowship. The annual fellowship, which funds senior projects, is designed to “identify the dreamers and the darers who would do something different and risk something unconventional,” as Daniels put it in a 2015 Wellesley News interview.
A fellowship project may be creative or analytic. It must be related to a credit-bearing Wellesley course, but need not be in the student’s major field. It may approach a familiar topic from a new perspective, or it may venture into an entirely new realm. These are the paths this year’s four fellows will explore:
Connie Chen ’17
Ink Our Time: Lighting a Candle for Hemingway in His Sacred Landscapes
Chen plans to immerse herself in the religious landscapes and cultures of France and Spain that influenced Ernest Hemingway’s work. She will capture and share her journey through the spaces where the author lived, worshiped, and wrote in an online journal. Chen said that she got the idea for the project while attending a 2016 Hemingway Society conference, where Hemingway scholars with whom she spoke encouraged her to explore for herself the streets and cathedrals the writer loved. “I knew if I had the opportunity to experience the depth of faith in the geography, the architecture, and the people,” she said, “I could gain a deeper and more sensitive insight…to appreciate Hemingway’s work.”
Ju (Julie) Kim ’17
Beyond My Mother’s Story: Examining the Quality of Long-Term Care Facilities in the United States
Kim believes that “the opportunity to contextualize my personal story among others’ stories is a powerful journey of self-discovery which embodies the values of the Pamela Daniels Fellowship.” Inspired by her own family’s experience and informed by her coursework in health care, Kim will combine her academic interests in U.S. health policy and her personal desire to affect the quality of long-term health care. She will conduct surveys that capture Americans’ concerns about long-term care, and make those voices heard in podcasts.
Anne Shen ’17
Exploring Correlation Between Body Size and Learning in Bumblebees
Shen said she is grateful to her advisor, Heather Mattila, associate professor of biological sciences, for encouraging her to begin her project on the relationship between developmental nutrition and adult learning flexibility in bumblebees. As bumblebees continue to lose foraging ground due to climate change and land development, food scarcity makes effective learning increasingly vital to colony survival. Shen is studying how bees, in order to feed their colonies, must adapt to the shifting resources of flowers that bloom at different times and offer varying richness.
Working with the bees is a humbling experience, Shen said, and a constant reminder that in spite of technological advances, much of life remains uncontrollable. However, she also finds working with the bees to be soothing. “I scold them for making the study more difficult for me, and I sometimes complain to them about rough days,” she said. “Of course, they can’t understand me, and the fact that they don’t care about what happens as long as they’re fed reminds me that my life is not the center of the universe.”
Tina Xu ’17
Borderline Human: A Child Refugee’s Journey Across Europe
While studying abroad in Oxford during her junior year, Xu forged a creative partnership with Sam Ziaee, an Afghan refugee now living in London. Together, they wrote the story of his treacherous journey across eight countries—running from Turkish bandits, capsizing in the Mediterranean, nearly suffocating in a shipping container, and sleeping in phone booths—to claim asylum as an unaccompanied minor in England. Through the Daniels fellowship, and with the help of Winifred Wood, co-director of the Cinema and Media Studies Program, Xu will partner with Ziaee again to develop his story into a film. “We hope to provide an honest glimpse into the refugee experience at the level of human experience,” said Xu, “with its attendant fears, hopes, disappointments, and triumphs.”