James “Jamie” Currie ’16 is a biology lab leader, instructing fellow students how to use equipment. Qossay Alsattari ’16 is active in a long list of student organizations and shares his extensive knowledge of the Middle East. Both have been named this semester’s winners of Franklin Miller Awards for outstanding work as scholars and student leaders.
Each semester, two students nominated by professors earn the award for significant academic contributions to Kenyon.
Currie, a film and biology double major, helped design an ongoing study that examines the way carbon cycles through wetlands, working with Professor of Biology Siobhan Fennessy, the Philip and Sheila Jordan Professor in Environmental Studies. Fennessy said in her nomination that Currie helps classmates in a variety of ways, from answering questions to making tea for his lab mates during meetings.
“Lab groups work best when they are cohesive and everyone feels part of a team, and Jamie has worked to make this happen,” she wrote.
Currie said he recognizes the importance of this connectedness. However, what Fennessy sees as going the extra mile, Currie sees as his responsibility. “The project is one I helped design, I’m in charge of running it, so it’s really my job that every single detail is seen to,” he said.
In addition to running a lab group, Currie presented a poster last June that detailed the progress of his research at a national conference for wetland science experts. “He was articulate, sound in his science and did a wonderful job representing Kenyon,” Fennessy wrote.
Alsattari, who majors in economics and international studies, has made his presence felt in other ways. Three professors nominated him for his variety of roles, including his efforts to bring awareness of the Middle East to campus. He is on the Diversity Advisory Council, works as an apprentice teacher for Arabic and is a member of Project for Open Voices, a student group dedicated to sharing personal stories. He is a key figure in Kenyon Students for Justice in Palestine and on the student advisory board for the Center for the Study of American Democracy. He also helped organize Dine and Discuss, when students and faculty talk about global politics and economics over a meal.
He has published papers on economics and Middle East policy through internships at the Center for Development Studies at Birzeit University in Palestine in 2014 and through the 2015 Next Leaders Program at the Institute for Policy Studies think tank in Washington, D.C.
Associate Professor of Economics Galina An described Alsattari’s significant impact on Kenyon’s academic environment. “I had Qossay in four of my classes in which he always brought his own unique perspective into the classroom, challenged participants of the debates in a very unconventional way and offered a multifaceted view on topics we were discussing.”
Alsattari said he is motivated to be involved so he can help educate his peers. “Throughout my time at Kenyon I witnessed our community becoming more aware of other perspectives — perspectives that are not part of mainstream U.S. analysis and discourse,” he said. “It is refreshing and promising to see that people are changing some of their beliefs and perceptions and expanding the horizon of their thinking.”
Currie and Alsattari each will receive a $250 credit to the College Bookstore for the award, which was established by Edward T. “Chip” Ordman ’64 in honor of the late Franklin Miller Jr., a beloved physics professor.
– Elana Spivack ’17