Summer A Time Of Discovery
indsey Welsford took her interests in two diverse parts of the world and turned them into a summer exploration.
"As a Latin American studies major who also took Japanese language courses, I was looking for a way of connecting these two areas," she says.
She decided to study in Brazil. The largest city in Brazil, S‹o Paulo, is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, says Welsford, a junior who also has an individualized major in international economic relations.
Welsford attended a six-week program at the Brazilian American Institute in Rio de Janeiro to learn Portuguese and immerse herself in Brazilian culture.
Welsford is one of 22 students who continued their studies during the summer through UConn's Summer Undergraduate Scholarship Program.
The initiative, administered through the Undergraduate Research Office, makes funds available to full-time undergraduates who have arranged a research project with a full-time UConn faculty member. Students do not have to be in the Honors Program to receive funding.
Welsford worked with Elizabeth Mahan, associate executive director of the Office of International Affairs, in coordinating her project.
"My host family didn't speak English, so I had to learn Portuguese right off the bat," she says. By the time she left, she was speaking moderately fluently: "I could have conversations, and I had a higher level of reading comprehension."
Welsford says the program was intensive: a language course every day for three and a half hours and a culture class twice a week for two hours. But she didn't mind: "I had a good time and learned a lot," she says.
Welsford is now spending a year in Osaka, Japan, to improve her knowledge of Japanese language and culture, and to investigate Japanese- Brazilian relations from the Japanese perspective. She received several scholarships to study in Japan, including a National Security Educational Program Boren Scholarship from the Department of Defense, a Freeman Asia Fellowship, and a Bridging Scholarship from the National Association of Japanese Teachers.
Jennifer Bordonaro spent the summer closer to home, doing research at the Health Center in Farmington. Bordonaro, a junior majoring in molecular and cell biology worked with Liisa Kuhn, an assistant professor at the Center for Biomaterials. She worked in a lab exploring the use of calcium phosphate as a drug delivery system for chemotherapy.
"This was an opportunity to overlap my interest in cancer research with biomedical engineering," says Bordonaro, a Nutmeg Scholar.
Her interest in cancer research was sparked when her younger brother was treated for cancer as a child. "It was at a very advanced stage, with a slim chance that he would survive," she says.
But her brother did survive. "I saw what he went through, and I always wanted to either help find a cure, or improve the treatment," she says.
She hopes to continue her research through the University Scholar Program, and is developing a proposal for a three-semester research project.
Clark Kasheta got to work with one of his idols this summer: jazz percussionist Billy Martin.
Kasheta is a music major who studies classical percussion and also takes lessons in jazz drumming. "I wanted to broaden my perspective and get a different approach," he says.
He had his eye on Billy Martin, the drummer in the jazz group Medeski, Martin and Wood. Kasheta says he has always been a fan of Martin's, and set his heart on studying with him after watching him perform last year.
So he sent an e-mail saying, "I'm a college student who is into jazz and improvisation and want a new perspective." To Kasheta's surprise, Martin responded. "I clicked on my inbox and I couldn't believe it," Kasheta says. The lessons were on.
Kasheta went to Martin's home in New Jersey for the lessons. He says at the start of each lesson, Martin asked him to play a solo improvisation:
"The idea behind that is to develop your own vocabulary and your own voice, approaching the drums as an artistic tool."
He also explored African rhythms.
Kasheta says the lessons have given him confidence to follow through on his goal of making a solo percussion CD.