Franklin & Marshall College students Saliyah George and Jennifer Deasy have much in common. Both sophomores are active campus leaders. Each aspires to influence the fields of health and medicine. Now, both are 2015 Rouse Scholars.
"I'm planning to go abroad to Africa while I'm here at F&M," said George, who intends to major in Africana studies and public health. "My goal is to learn about the culture, but also to witness and learn about health disparities."
Deasy, who plans to double major in neuroscience and classical languages, has a patent under consideration that might eventually lead to a cure for migraine headaches. "I would love to work with the brain, though I'm still deciding whether my career will be in research or in caring for patients," she said.
These are the forward-thinking qualities that Andrew Rouse '49 seeks in recipients of the Rouse Scholarship, a program that began 13 years and 31 students ago. On Dec. 2, George and Deasy were named the latest Rouse recipients.
"Leadership is about knowing your passions and knowing how to create a life’s path and work to effectively and skillfully pursue them," said Sam Houser, who chairs the Rouse Scholarship selection process and serves as F&M’s vice president for strategic initiatives and chief of staff. "These two students exemplify those attributes and more."
Rouse Scholarships are awarded to two sophomores each year. The awards cover the cost of tuition, books and other academic expenses for the duration of the students' schooling at the College. In addition, Rouse Scholars can earn grants for research and leadership projects. They must demonstrate exceptional leadership and excel academically.
Rouse started the program following a successful career in government and private industry. He encourages recipients of the Rouse Scholarship to follow his lead and support the program once they achieve success.
George and Deasy said they were confident in their scholarship applications, but that confidence was tested when they were asked to report to Old Main concerning a question about their submissions.
"I thought, 'Let me keep my game face on and keep going,'" George recalled.
"It was kind of scary," Deasy said.
However, when they arrived at Houser’s office, they learned they had prevailed. It's a story they cherish.
The ability to remain positive in the face of adversity and a willingness to make difficult decisions are leadership qualities that define Rouse scholars.
George, raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., found her voice and talent in high school. She was active in student government and captained the softball team. She also served in the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, a Brooklyn nonprofit that collaborates with borough residents to create neighborhood-based programs designed to improve community health.
"When I first started high school, I hardly ever talked because I didn’t think my voice was important, but having leadership positions really built my self-confidence and showed me that what I have to say is important. I learned that I can help others, and in so doing, help myself," she said.George, whose parents are Jamaican, is a member of the Black Student Union and serves on the executive board for S.I.S.T.E.R.S, which she has helped to grow from 60 to 120 members. She also is a house adviser (HA) in Bonchek College House, a role she relishes because of the positive effect it can have on the student experience.
"As an HA, you meet some first years who feel awkward and don't yet have friends," George said. "You are the first person who gets to know them, and you can help them feel like a part of F&M's campus."
In high school, Deasy served on the executive board of the National Honor Society, and volunteered at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where she was a special exhibits leader, teaching children about science.
"I would go on stage and dissect crayfish in front of students seated in the auditorium," Deasy said. "They loved it."
The Fort Washington, Pa., resident also participated in a national science research competition, using MRI technology to develop a possible migraine cure. Her submission is currently under review at the U.S. Patent Office. Deasy, a migraine sufferer herself, came up with the idea in her senior year of high school while working as intern at Drexel University's neuroscience laboratory.
A nationally ranked saber fencer who competed in the 2013 Junior Olympics, Deasy is considering restarting a fencing club at F&M.
"I heard that years ago there was one here and that the equipment is still somewhere in the athletic center," she said. "I would love to break out the equipment. I'm certified to teach fencing. I find it more fun when I can lead and be involved."