Brian Lacey ’72 Fellowships will support experiences in Ghana, Samoa
Supported by funds from the Brian Lacey ’72 International Fellowship in Social Justice, one Saint Michael’s College student will spend a semester living, learning and serving in Ghana and another in Samoa during the coming spring 2023 semester.
“Tallis Diehn and Swapnil Jhajharia are exceptional students and lovely human beings,” said Peggy Imai, the College’s director of study abroad, in announcing this year’s Lacey Fellowship recipients. Imai emphasized how important Lacey’s support continues to be for Study Abroad and to the College in general.
Diehn is a junior economics major from Enfield, NH, while Jhajharia is a junior from Rajasthan, India, with a double major in psychology and statistics. Each will receive $2,500 for intensive academic and experiential learning about cultures, language immersion and activities that promote social justice in their respective study-abroad locations.
Economic development insights
In his application essay for the scholarship, Diehn explained his interest in a three-month “Globalization, Cultural Legacies & the Afro-Chic” study abroad program. “While in Ghana I will study the cultural, economic, and social justice impacts of development and colonialism, learn from Ghanaians about their localized approach, and learn about how they have integrated that approach with a mindset adjusted for social justice and human rights,” he wrote.
He said that Ghana has demonstrated notable success in shifting its economic development approach from the financial and industrial toward the human and social perspectives, so that will be his focus. Saying that the scholarship “will help my family immensely in being able to afford the spring semester,” Diehn said that upon his return, he plans to compile a presentation based on his experiences with an eye to his longer-view aim — “to further my career and education in development and contribute to the field as a whole.” Diehn said he also plans to base his senior thesis in his economics major next year around economic development and his experience in Ghana.
Diehn also is vice president for the campus environmental club called Green Up, has been a Teaching Gardens Steward for the past two years along with other campus leadership roles as an event organizer, and he works seasonally with Gardener’s Supply Company. He also is an Eagle Scout.
A sea change in perspective
Swapnil Jhajharia wrote in his essay applying for the fellowship that he has devoted his time at Saint Michael’s so far in “developing a better understanding of the human psyche across cultures with the aim of being able to facilitate intercultural dialogues about the human experience.”
The Samoa program that he chose through SIT Study Abroad probes social and environmental change in Oceania, allowing him “to take courses that span across disciplines like social justice, anthropology, the Samoan language, and environmental studies,” all “on the front lines of climate change and westernization.” This will advance his education and opportunities as an aspiring anthropologist and psychologist, he said.
“Through the fellowship, I hope to reduce the financial burdens of engaging in the study abroad program in Samoa as I explore social justice and climate change issues in Oceania” he said. Upon return to campus, Jhajharia hopes to join student-led symposia for discipline-specific and study-abroad programs. He also wants to write about his experience for the student newspaper, the Defender to encourage other students to study abroad, he wrote.
Jhajharia is a resident assistant at Saint Michael’s for Residence Life, is a core leader for Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (the volunteer service arm of Edmundite Campus Ministry), and he is an Adventure Sports instructor for rock climbing and hiking outings.
About Lacey Fellowships
The Brian Lacey International Fellowship in Social Justice is designed to encourage and honor students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement as well as a dedication to a deeper understanding of issues and social-justice. This merit-and need-based award is intended to recognize students who show initiative, imagination and motivation to apply their academic skills to the betterment of humanity.
The fellowship is offered once each semester. They are funded through gifts from Brian Lacey ’72 — president of Lacey Entertainment, a New York-based worldwide television marketing, production and distribution company. Lacey is also founder and director of the Kilkea Foundation, a non-profit organization that encourages and honors excellence in the humanities, arts and sciences. This benefactor also has established the Henry G. Fairbanks Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Saint Michael’s through the Kilkea Foundation.