Bates junior awarded Beinecke Scholarship and junior Jason Surdukowski named Harry S. Truman Scholar

Bates College junior Volkan Stodolsky of Germantown, Md., has been awarded an Edwin, Frederick and Walter Beinecke Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $32,000 to support his graduate education. Stodolsky hopes to earn a Ph.D. in Islamic cultural history.Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Stodolsky has also lived in Holland, Croatia (during a Bates Fall Semester Abroad) and in Russia (during a junior semester abroad). At Bates, he has been able to fulfill a passion for connecting and communicating with different cultures.

A dean’s list history major, Stodolsky work at Bates includes a concentration in East Asian studies and a minor in Russian. Before being awarded the Beinecke Scholarship, Stodolsky received an Albion Morse Stevens Award for his work in foreign language and a Hoffman-Mellon grant in support of teaching English and studying Russian in Russia.

Stodolsky, recently named a 2001 Phillips Student Fellow at Bates College, will receive a grant of up to $10,000 supporting a summer research project for which he will travel to Sarejavo to conduct an oral history project interviewing Bosnian Muslims who were children and teenagers during the Bosnian War. He will also explore the relationship between war and cultural identity and investigate the myth of “ancient hatreds” used to explain longstanding conflicts in the region.

“During my Bates Fall Semester Abroad in Croatia, we had an expedition to Sarajevo, and even though this beautiful city was under siege for 1,395 days – the longest military siege of modern history – the whole world had watched day after day for four years and had done nothing,” Stodolsky says. “Nevertheless, the people of Sarajevo were very hospitable and warm toward us.” Stodolsky believes studying a contrast between experience and attitude will be interesting and rewarding. “My greatest passion is to communicate with different cultures,” he says. Bates has allowed him to do that, he says. “I was able to travel to some of the most interesting and complicated regions of the world, from Siberia to Sarajevo.”

The Phillips Student Fellowships provide major funding to students who design exceptional international or cross-cultural projects focusing on research, service-learning, or career exploration, or some combination of the three.  Projects must involve substantial immersion in a different culture. The Phillips Student Fellowships at Bates are part of the Phillips Endowment Program, an ambitious initiative of awards, honors and opportunities for faculty and students funded by a $9-million endowment bequest to the College from former Bates President Charles F. Phillips and his wife, Evelyn Minard Phillips, in 1999.

Bates College junior Jason Surdukowski of Concord, N.H., a double major in studio art and political science, has been named a 2001 Harry S. Truman Scholar, one of 70 students nationwide to receive a $30,000 scholarship awarded on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and the likelihood of “making a difference.”

The 70 scholars were selected from among 592 candidates nominated by 303 colleges and universities. Each scholar will receive $3,000 for the senior undergraduate year and $27,000 for two or three years of graduate study. Those selected must be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector. “I am humbled by the faith the Truman Foundation has expressed in my potential to live a life of active public service,” Surdukowski said. “The graduate work that the scholarship supports will bring me another step closer to my goal of working to ‘make gentle the life of this world.'”

Surdukowski hopes to complete M.A. and J.D. degrees and pursue a career that includes international law and public office. An art critic for The Bates Student, the campus newspaper, and president of The Representative Assembly, Bates’ student government, Surdukowski is planning a senior thesis that relates the discourse of law to the reality of genocide. A show of his work that focuses on human rights issues will travel to Amherst and Swarthmore colleges this year. The Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport recently selected two of his pieces for display it its 2001 exhibit “The Next Generation.”

Surdukowski’s artistic expression often reflects his political concerns. “My art is one kind of activism for me,” he said. “Art is a power, a bully pulpit, a concentrated and strong discourse.” When Surdukowski won a Humanity and Action Foundation Fellowship to study human rights and the Holocaust in Holland last summer, he immediately knew that his required outreach project would be artistic. “Art is the way I can most concretely reach people,” he explained. Surdukowski is a 1998 graduate of Concord High School.

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