AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR POLISH CULTUREFive winners of the 17th annual $5,000 Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski Scholarships were announced recently by Dr. Stephen Medvec, Chairman Pulaski Scholarship Committee, American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC). A record number of applications were received this year. The scholarship program was initiated 17 years ago as a result of a sizeable endowment by the Conrad R. Walas family with continuing support from the Polonia.
$5,000 PULASKI SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS
This year, long-time chairman Mr. Marion Winters retired from the committee and his place was taken by Dr. Stephen Medvec. Serving with him on the Pulaski Scholarship Committee for 2017 are Mrs. Alicia L. Dutka; Mrs. Deborah M. Majka, MS; Mrs. Carolyn Meleski, MS; and Mr. Peter J. Obst, MA. The exceptional qualities of school work and research plus dedicated community services performed by the applicants made the final selection process quite difficult. The Committee felt that most of the applicants deserved recognition for their outstanding achievements and honestly wished that funding was available that could have allowed for several more awards.
The Pulaski Committee selected the following students for the 2017 Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies grants of $5,000 each:
Amanda Plazek Bruce is pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Music History and Literature at Youngstown State University, Ohio. She is a graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and, during her undergraduate studies, she worked as a full-time director of music, organist and choir director. Her thesis deals with orchestral and film music of the Solidarity period in Poland. Her faculty advisor calls it "an important contribution to the field of Polish music and Cold War studies." Another teacher commented on Amanda's great respect and interest in her Polish heritage. A natural leader, in 2014, she was a recipient of the Simply Slavic Scholarship in Youngstown, Ohio.
Michael Anthony Chrusciel is studying medicine and library science at Wayne State University, Michigan. Behind him is an extensive agenda of travel that includes (among other places) Poland, Afghanistan and Cuba. He is active in Polish-American life and in April 2011 conducted research on attitudes in Poland toward cell and organ transplantation. The reports he submitted with his application were outstanding. In addition to Polish, he is also proficient in French. His faculty advisor states: "I believe Michael exemplifies the ideal qualities of a Pulaski Scholarship recipient, maintaining his involvement in the Polish-American community despite the rigors of medical school. For example, he regularly attends screenings of and lectures about contemporary Polish films at Wayne State University and recently delivered a presentation of his research on Poland's footprint in Afghanistan and Moldova this past fall (2016) to the Friends of the Polish Art organization."
David Liebers is at Harvard University's Medical School, specializing in Psychiatry (with interest in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). He is a graduate of the University of Rochester (New York) and Cambridge University, Trinity College, UK. In 2014, he was recruited by Undersecretary of State Jadwiga Emelewicz to advise the Polish government in the creation of a publicly funded center for biotechnology and healthcare innovation. As a Fulbright Scholar (2010-2011), he supported victims of political repression in Belarus and Ukraine. He is active in the Polish Club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is also an amateur boxer.
Gabriella Szewczyk is studying at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, in Chicago. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Michigan. Her interest is focused on Oral Medicine, including deadly mouth cancers. Gabriella wants to be a dental educator and researcher. She is involved in Graduate Women in Science and the Dental Charity Foundation. Her research mentor writes: "As a graduate student, Gabriella is making substantial progress on her projects, and we are quite excited about one lead in particular. The ongoing research theme in my lab is dedicated to understanding cell-to-cell communication processes of bacteria. . . . Gabriella has devised a plan to investigate chemical signaling used by a primary oral pathogen, called Streptococcus mutans and how signaling may contribute in relationships with other microbes and lead to exacerbated disease."
Virginia Whealton is at Indiana University in Bloomington, a Ph.D. Candidate in Musicology. She maintains her musical proficiency as principal second violinist and sectional coach for the campus orchestra. Her dissertation is entitled: "Travel, Ideology, and the Geographical Imagination: Parisian Musical Travelogues, 1830-1870." Among her publications is an article in the Journal of the American Liszt Society about Chopin and Liszt (2012). Her research took her to London, Warsaw and Stockholm. She is proficient in French and a freelance academic translator. Her faculty advisor wrote: "Virginia's scholarly work has intellectual depth and elegance. She has all the qualities that make a superb scholar."
The Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies Committee wishes these five outstanding students continuing success and is confident that they will attain their career objectives fully. The Committee trusts that they will honor their heritage by ultimately remaining close to the Polish community wherever possible during their careers.