News

Meet the Sunflower Initiative’s 2019 Fitzgerald Scholar!

June 2019
Meet Thu-Yến Nguyen 
Our 2019 Harriet Fitzgerald Scholar
The Sunflower Initiative has awarded the 2019 Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarship to Thu-Yến Nguyen of Hanoi, Vietnam. Thu-Yếnhad an outstanding academic record at The Olympia Schools in Hanoi as well as accomplishing many firsts for her age and gender. She was the youngest student ever elected as Student Government President at The Olympia Schools, chosen “Best Speaker” at the Vietnam Schools Debating Championship 2017, and led the 2017 Vietnam Schools National Debate Team to win “Best New Nation” at the 2017 World Schools Debating Championship and Harvard College World Schools Invitations as Team Captain.
 Yến’s interest in gender equality led to a published article on gender equality for the United Nations Women Asia & The Pacific, and she directed a video for the International Day of the Girl Child which was screened in Times Square in New York City.
Teachers attest to her commitment and perseverance. “In 2015, inspired by our class discussion on Gender Equality, Thu-Yến wrote an outstanding article that was selected by the United Nations (UN) Women Asia & The Pacific. After her trip to UN Women Headquarters, Thu-Yến identified the UN’s struggle to reach out to Vietnamese youth. Over the course of 3 years, she has devoted to creating local media campaigns that were more relevant to her peers. 
During events like UNiTE to End Violence against Women, UN Sustainable Developments 7-Day Challenge, Day of the Girl Child, she successfully inspired a diverse group of over 5,000 students both in and outside of The Olympia Schools to participate, including students as young as 10 years old. Before her graduation, Yến successfully achieved her goal of establishing an official partnership between The Olympia Schools and United Nations Vietnam, which opened up sustainable opportunities for her juniors to participate in projects.
The Scholarship Committee noticed that, beyond her own accomplishments, Yến frequently served in a supportive role for fellow students. For the national debate team, she travelled to remote villages to recruit and train students; founded the Hanoi Activities Conference Student Council, a liaison between students councils of 10 international schools to collaborate on community service projects and learning opportunities, and volunteered at the Vietnam Hospital of Pediatrics to teach art to children inspiring others to volunteer as well. 
 A teacher writes that Yến is a “servant-leader who tirelessly nurtures her community of strong leaders, and constantly seeks out opportunities for them to achieve the seemingly impossible.” 
Yến’s accomplishments already seem to reach beyond her years and her national boundaries. It was evident to the Scholarship Committee that she will continue to contribute to every community in which she is a part. Thu-Yến will enroll at Bryn Mawr College in September. 
Thu-Yến’s desire to attend a women’s college was clear: “The supporting system at a women’s college is unique. . . In such developmental and empowering environment, I could establish a global network of female leaders who will help me create a culture of acceptance and celebration of women’s achievements.”
Enrollment Up Sharply at the “Seven Sisters”
A recent surge in applications to the “seven sisters” colleges reaffirms for The Sunflower Initiative our belief that women’s colleges are relevant and vital for young women of today and tomorrow.
An NBC article provides the following interesting information:

Since 2014:
  • Barnard’s applications are up 64%
  • Wellesley’s are up 40%
  • Smith’s are up 25%
  • Mt. Holyoke’s are up 23.6%
  • Bryn Mawr’s are up 23.1%
We can be proud of the role TSI plays in supporting young women in their desire to attend a women’s college.
 Here are some of the highlights of NBC’s article:
Joy St. John, dean of admission and financial aid at Wellesley said, “We’ve seen growth in applications from every major geographic region; and among our most recently accepted class, 57% are domestic students of color and 17% are the first in their families to attend a four-year college.”…
A study called “What Matters in College After College” prepared for the Women’s College Coalition found that women’s colleges alumnae were more likely than any other group to complete a graduate degree. The study also found that women’s colleges receive higher effectiveness ratings than all other colleges and universities for helping students be prepared for their first job. 
These statistics do not surprise students like Barnard senior Xonatia Lee. “When women are exposed to powerful female role models, they are more likely to endorse the notion that women are well suited for a leadership role,” Lee said. “It is important to invest in a women’s education and build their leadership skills.”

2018/12 News from the Sunflower Initiative

December 2018
It’s Not Too Late

If you have not already done so, it’s not too late to make a tax-deductible contribution to The Sunflower Initiative. Your support is vital for our continuing scholarships for young women attending women’s colleges.

You may contribute by sending a check to The Sunflower Initiative, P.O. Box 378, Bedford, VA 24523 or by going to our website  and making a contribution online.

Thank you so much for your support! We send our best wishes for the holiday season to each of you.

Our Outstanding 2018 Applicants
by Meg McKean for the Scholarship Committee:
Carolyn Bell, Meg McKean, and Jane Herb Rinden

 
Each year the scholarship committee reports on the marvels we found in the scholarship winner, the finalists for the year, and in the applicants as a whole, and each year we encounter new achievements and new combinations of interests. We find an extraordinary variety of intellectual interests and charitable activities: combinations of dance and science, athletics and mathematics, harp and Chinese language, even poetry, puppets, and Latin. Some play multiple music instruments: flute and alto saxophone while excelling in music theory, or piano and cello.
Applicants include inventors and pathbreakers: one worked in coding for the geophysics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a bioinformatics student learned 3D modeling in order to build a smart phone application for patients with glaucoma, another devised computer programs to transform and generate safe recipes for people with allergies. A lacrosse player studied Japanese, wrote a children’s book, and started a STEM group for underprivileged kids in her city. A dancer teaches STEM literacy to elementary students, promotes urban agriculture in the inner-city, and plans customized birthday parties for homeless children.
We see already creative teachers. One devised her own methods, ignoring the standard textbooks, for teaching disadvantaged high school students not just to survive the SAT but also to enjoy the material. Another who works as a teaching assistant for her math teachers has raised test scores 22% by devising hands-on outdoor exercises in “sidewalk geometry.” Another who teaches computer literacy to third-grade girls finds that working an all-girl “teams” builds confidence and inspires these students to meet challenges and demand more.
Our applicants perform at the tops of their high school cohorts but they are not economically privileged. A surprising number of applicants are children of single mothers, and many have had to work during high school to contribute to family income. We have an increasingly diverse pool with large numbers of minority students performing at the top of their high school classes, whether in literature, history, computer science, or astrophysics.
One applicant wrote that what sets the approach of women’s colleges to higher education apart – “and what attracts me to them—is an overarching moral responsibility to make space for the next generation of women within their chosen fields.”
We are inspired by additional – and wonderful — perspectives on why our applicants want to attend women’s colleges. Here are some of their reasons, in their own words:
  • to study science without having to endure the message that women should not do science;
  • to feel comfortable taking chances and to own my own successes and blunders;
  • to be free of the worry that I might be deemed bossy for speaking my mind in a seminar;
  • to embrace or reject concepts of femininity without feeling as if I were succumbing to stereotypes;
  • to shake off the hesitation that comes from having men in my classroom;
  •  to enable me to study gender rather than deal with it as a daily problem;
  •  to obtain the best possible preparation for pursuit of a field dominated by men;
  •  to find camaraderie and the courage to be adventurous;
  • to be fearless.
Donate to TSI today!
 

2018/09 The Sunflower Initiative Quarterly

September 2018
L to R: Jane Herb Rinden, Martha Hildenbrand Scott, and Nahid Hamzei enjoying tea in Saint-Malo, France.
Endings and Beginnings
We begin our newsletter with the sad news of the loss of a key member of the TSI team and the welcome of a new Board member.
Jane Herb Rinden (R-MWC ’62), who served for the past three years on The Sunflower Initiative’s Scholarship Committee, died unexpectedly on July 23, 2018. Jane brought to our committee the intelligence, diligence, and skills of an experienced educator and passionate advocate for women’s colleges. Ever the teacher and mentor, she loved learning about our applicants and read their materials with close attention. Her wide-ranging intellect, sound judgment, and extraordinary sensitivity and care transformed our internal discussions, as well as our Skype interviews with finalists, into stimulating experiences for all of us. We feel Jane’s loss keenly as we look ahead to the coming scholarship season without her. 
And we welcome Ruth Barnes Kinsolving (R-MWC ’68) to the Sunflower Initiative’s Board of Directors.
After receiving a JD from the University of Florida College of Law, Ruth practiced more than 45 years as a commercial real estate lawyer, retiring in 2008. She was chairman of The Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section and remains on the executive council in retirement. She was a Fellow and former Governor of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, and a member of the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.
Ruth’s volunteer work is varied and extensive: former member and president of the Athena Society, a Tampa Bay area organization dedicated to “Advancing the status of women through Equality, Acceptance, Education, Opportunity;” advisory board for the U. of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum; active in regional Arts and Cultural Affairs organizations including the Chipola Regional Arts Association helping to fund arts and music classes in the schools of a 5 county region; the Florida Society of St. Andrew, a gleaning and distribution effort for local food banks; as well as Florida Master Gardener.
Ruth says that her experience at a liberal arts woman’s college “shaped my core beliefs and confidence (and those of my classmates) to pursue careers that encourage women to reach their full personal potential and to treasure the qualities inherent in the female character.”
Donate to TSI today!
Top row: Meg McKean, Emily Moss, Nahid Hamzei
Bottom row: Gerry Brann, Betsy McCrodden, Ellen Ramsburgh
Your board welcomed Gerry Copley Brann (R-MWC ’66), and our 2015 scholar, Emily Moss (Wellesley ’19), at dinner during our Washington DC retreat, and were able to visit on Sunday morning with Toby Delrahim (R-MWC ’95). We enjoy connecting with TSI supporters at our retreats and look forward to gathering with friends in the Atlanta area at our 2019 retreat.
A highlight of the weekend was the opportunity to get better acquainted with Emily who was spending her summer as part of the Wellesley in Washington program. Wellesley funds a cohort of students to pursue summer internships in DC. Emily was a housing policy intern at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities focusing on how social policies impact low-income families. She contributed to data analysis and research on a variety of federal housing assistance programs. In a note of thanks Emily wrote, “It is so nice to share a mutual understanding and appreciation for the power of a women’s college education. I’m feeling especially grateful tonight to be a part of the Sunflower community.”
Our much-appreciated Kristin Hodges is taking some time away from the board to care for her family. She continues to support TSI and hopes to return to the board in the future. 

2018/09 TSI sends best wishes to all in Hurricane Florence’s path

Because of inclement weather, our September newsletter will be somewhat delayed.

 
 
 
 
 
Because of inclement weather, our September newsletter will appear later in the month than usual. In the meantime, the Sunflower Initiative’s Board hopes that all the members of the Initiative will be able to stay safe, dry and well. 
 
 

2017/05 The Sunflower Initiative Quarterly

 

The Sunflower Initiative Quarterly
July 2017
 
Our Harriet Fitzgerald Scholars

In addition to maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA, our returning scholars submit a letter of support from a faculty member and an essay detailing their experiences during the year, future plans for summer, and plans for the next academic year. We know you will enjoy hearing more about the scholars that you support through The Sunflower Initiative.

Marley Forest spent the spring semester at the University of Edinburgh, where she continued studying the Middle East (and Scottish Song!) and is on her way to spend the summer as a counselor at the Seeds of Peace camp in Maine where some years ago she developed her own interests in conflict resolution.  She will work with students from Israel and Palestine, as well as from the United States, to consider issues of immigration, race, gender, religion, and more.  She is glad to have this chance to give back to a new generation after having been so inspired there herself.  Next year she will graduate from Wellesley, which has awarded her a summer internship through the Madeline Albright Institute that she may use anywhere. Her hope is to use it in a Spanish- or Arabic-speaking location in order to strengthen her language skills. 
Ilse Meiler discovered an even keener fascination with mathematics from her first hour of coursework at Smith in an all-female (of course) class on Discrete Mathematics taught by a woman. So, in addition to her well-established love of history and chemistry, she now contemplates a double major in chemistry and math. She won a coveted research position in chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is spending the summer generating compounds to be tested for use as antibiotics or anticancer drugs.  She looks forward to returning to Smith where once again she will be a coxswain on the crew team.
 Emily Moss’s involvement in the 2016 electoral campaign and Wellesley courses in economics moved her attention from global affairs and the making of political promises toward actual delivery on those promises in improving the well-being of local communities.  Her academic interests have turned toward homelessness and urban poverty, rent control, and the impact of urban development on community health.  She is spending this summer as a research intern in the New Economy Project in New York City, and is now considering an academic career in community development, poverty, and social justice. 
 
We are pleased to introduce Maggie Micklo of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, as the 2017 Harriet Fitzgerald Scholar.  Maggie’s enthusiasm, articulateness, and pursuit of intellectual and societal challenges were evident during interviews with the TSI scholarship committee. She writes that her time at Barnard College’s Young Women’s Leadership Institute was a pivotal experience.  “My two weeks at Barnard showed me the power of women’s voices in a way I had never experienced in my co-educational high school.  I added my perspective to the intelligent, motivated voices of my peers in discussions that not only changed my thinking, but also changed the direction of my life.  Women’s colleges create leaders, and strong leaders change the world. “
In addition to a stellar high school record, Maggie served as Senior Class President, participated in theatre productions, concert and madrigal choirs, speech and debate teams, and volunteered with at-risk children, bi-lingual students, LGBTQ youth and children with autism.  As president of the Gender Equality Club at her school, she recruited both boys and girls to work on projects for women and children in homeless shelters in the Chicago area.  She was an exchange student in Marseille, France, and has hosted French exchange students in the U.S.  Her teachers note that she is a fearsome debater because of her analytical skills and incredible grasp of the language. She is active in local politics, passionate about the rights of individuals and displays a “deep sense of empathy and concern for people who have individual differences.”
This summer, Maggie is interning for the Coalition for a Better Illinois 6th, a group of over 25 grassroots programs organized to monitor and hold accountable the representative from the 6th Illinois district.  She has helped conduct forums, canvass neighborhoods, phone bank, and meet with local leaders, gaining valuable knowledge about political and community organizing.  
Maggie is looking forward to enrolling at Mt. Holyoke College in the fall.    
Donate to TSI today!

For The Sunflower Initiative Board of Directors, spring is always an exciting time because it’s the time we review applications and award a new Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarship.  The applications from smart, curious and promising young women reinforce our dedication to TSI’s mission and energize our activities.  This spring was no different, and in this newsletter the Board is happy to introduce you to one such student, Maggie Micklo, our latest Fitzgerald Scholar.   Please also see short updates about our three current scholars, all doing well at their respective women’s colleges.

We continue our new “Women We Have Known” with Molly Westling’s write-up about Katherine (Kate) Cudlipp, R-MWC ’64.  If you have someone that you would like remembered, please let us know.   

 For those of you who have supported us through the years, this is a time to feel proud about your investment in these young women.   Thank you for continuing to provide assistance to the Fitzgerald Scholars and to colleges committed to educating women.

Women We Have Known:
Katherine Yeamans Cudlipp
 

A Tribute to 
a 1964 R-MWC Classmate
by Louise (Molly) Westling

Katherine Yeamans Cudlipp arrived as a freshman at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1960.  She was an award-winning student and leader, serving as editor of the student newspaper and Student Government President and graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1964 with Phi Beta Kappa honors as well as a Fulbright Scholarship to study mathematics in Australia. Kate had many interesting careers, reinventing herself a number of times while constantly seeking challenges in a life of service until her untimely death from a bicycle accident in 2011.  
An intrepid person, Kate explored Asia alone on her return travels home at the end of her Fulbright Year. She worked first with Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone in Washington, D.C. before deciding on a career change to serve as Associate Director of Admission for Webster College in Missouri. Although this position allowed her to guide promising students into a strong women’s college experience, she resigned after a few years to spend a personal sabbatical considering a more intellectual kind of service. 
Kate returned to Washington to serve as a Senate staffer while studying law at Georgetown University.  She joined the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in 1979, acting as Chief Counsel from 1981 to 1987 and minority chief counsel from 1987. There she participated in crafting the landmark reauthorization of the Clean Air Act of 1970, an eleven-year project that produced the successful 1979 Clean Air Act Amendments in 1990.  She served as General Counsel to the National Commission on Air Quality from 1979 to 1981 and was a member of the United States’ environmental delegation to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1983 and 1988.
After retiring from the Senate Committee, Kate once again reinvented herself, earning an M.A. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington and beginning a ministerial role at the Seekers Church. She also coordinated activities for the ecumenical Church of the Savior. She was a board member and chair of the children’s advocacy group, For the Love of Children, and helped with the revitalization of the old 12th Street YMCA to become the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage.  
Always athletic, she led group bicycle rides around the Potomac area and participated in the 2002 AIDS ride from Raleigh, N.C. to Washington. In 1995 and 1996 she hiked the 800 kilometer Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrim trail across northern Spain. Kate Cudlipp was a wonderful example of the 1960s generation of Randolph-Macon women who led in opening up exciting professional opportunities for women, advocating for environmental rights and social justice, and showing where ethical ambitions could lead.  
 

 

 

 

 

Meredith Dixon <dixonm@pobox.com>