Civic Duty, Worldwide Citizenship

  • Image of Sean Hyland ’18

Sean Hyland ’18

Charles A. Dana Memorial Scholarship

Sean Hyland ’18 has always felt a strong sense of citizenship in his community and country. Through internship opportunities funded by his Franklin & Marshall education, he put this civic duty into action -- allowing each new role to expand his perspective and impact. 

In his first year at F&M, Hyland, who is pursuing a joint major in government and public policy, interned on Tom Wolf’s campaign for governor of Pennsylvania. For 25 hours each week, the Warminster, Pa., native canvassed the neighborhoods of Lancaster.

“I was dropped off and told to knock on about 100 doors and talk to people. I heard people’s stories in parts of the city that F&M students don’t often visit. Government can be so personal and really affect people’s lives, and I learned that through the stories they told,” Hyland said.

While he was studying the principles of government in class, Hyland was living the impacts of government in the city that surrounded his campus. But his interests spanned beyond the United States -- so he followed that curiosity across the world and discovered a passion for Middle East studies.

“I took Intro to Islam my very first semester,” he recalled. “At the time, I was thinking there was a lot of negative rhetoric being thrown around about Islam and Muslims, and I wanted to educate myself.  And taking that class with Professor SherAli Tareen -- his passion for what he does, what he teaches and how he teaches it -- was just amazing. That got me hooked into actually studying Arabic later on, and I don’t think I would have studied abroad in Jordan last semester if it weren’t for that class that I took in my first semester at college.”

Incorporating a Middle East studies minor into his degree, Hyland traveled to Jordan last spring to study geopolitics, international relations, and Arabic -- granting him a deeper global perspective and high aspirations for creating bridges between nations in conflict.

Hyland plans to make global change begin with local service. In addition to supporting Gov. Wolf’s campaign, he has interned at the Public Utility Commission in Harrisburg and the Lancaster City Alliance near F&M, worked multiple stints for U.S.  Sen. Bob Casey, and led his peers in civic participation through F&M Votes and the College Democrats. His internships have been supported by F&M funding through programs like the highly selective Public Service Summer Internship and F&M Works in Lancaster.

In his senior year, Hyland anticipates pursuing independent research. “I’m looking to study student voter participation throughout Pennsylvania in elections, examining trends in student participation in Pennsylvania, and seeing if I can compare that to the study that I did in Jordan,” he said. “Then, I will aim to identify similarities to bridge some of the gaps that people believe exist between Middle Eastern or Arab cultures and U.S. culture or Western culture. The study of government is a powerful way to do that.”

For Hyland, these opportunities to study and influence his communities through governmental action are characteristic of a high-caliber liberal arts education. Here, he is able to blend his academic interests in government with real politics and campaigns, voter registration and civic participation in daily life.

Through his F&M education and all that it makes possible inside and outside the classroom, he is becoming a citizen of the world -- preparing for a lifetime of difference-making wherever he goes. 

EVER-SKEPTICAL 

  • Photo of Elisabeth Hare ’18

Elisabeth Hare ’18

Leon Herman Scholarship, Ostheim Memorial Scholarship

Elisabeth Hare speaks to you quickly.  She packs each sentence with meaning, eschews jargon, and draws connections between disparate ideas, disciplines and life experiences in a way that few 21-year-olds can. 

“You want my academic pedigree?” she asked, sitting in F&M’s coffee shop, the newly reinvented Blue Line Cafe, in Distler House. 

Hare, pre-med and majoring in scientific and philosophical studies of mind, has an impressive academic pedigree. While still in high school, the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, native co-authored a paper with a Case Western Reserve doctoral candidate on resident microglia and blood-derived macrophages in the brain and spinal cord. Her ongoing research in biopsychology, with F&M Assistant Professor of Psychology Tim Roth, explores neuronal density using sparrow brains. It’s an impressive record for a student still months from a bachelor’s degree and with plans for both graduate study and medical school. 

Even so, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates 1.9 million will attain bachelor’s degrees at U.S. institutions in 2017-2018; 790,000 will earn master’s degrees and 183,000 doctoral degrees. Academic pedigrees are not in short supply. 

Less common, however, are the intangibles Hare brings to her education. It’s not only her willingness to explore a variety of academic disciplines -- she “fell in love with philosophy in high school” -- but also her drive to integrate them with her pursuits in hard science and her ability to articulate the purpose and results that set her apart. She describes philosophy as, “the young child next to my main interest of neuroscience.  I just love the brain.” 

For Hare, sectioning and staining sparrow brains goes hand-in-hand with pondering social constructs, issues of identity -- how to relate to others as a physician. In other words, for this aspiring brain surgeon, good bedside manner is important.  

“I’m wired very scientifically,” she said. “I like to look at the facts and see what I can make of them. A lot of my foundational classes in the hard sciences were in chemistry, bio and physics; I took all of those in the first two years. But my other classes were gritty philosophy, like symbolic logic. I came to realize that philosophy and science really complement each other. The way you think in philosophy and the way it makes you question the world around you hone your mind to be ever-skeptical.”

Hare’s summer 2017 half-Hackman research project aimed squarely at the intersection of hard science and philosophy. The resulting abstract, “Exploring the Metaphysics of Race and Gender,” outlines a scientific approach to evaluating two of today’s most divisive issues. In developing it, she and her fellow researchers took the scalpel of rigorous thinking to the flexible reasoning -- and the sometimes outright pseudoscience -- of commentary on race and gender. 

“[Our work] melds hard science, philosophy, psychology,” she said. “We hope to develop our own accounts of what gender and race mean and to make a criticism of those constructs.” In the end, it’s about understanding the world around her in the interest of serving it more effectively.

“When you’re addressing different areas of study,” she said, “you start seeing connections. You have a grounding that you can take anywhere.

“The point is, ‘How should I be thinking?’”