Featured below are photographs and testimonials from the travels of Stamps Scholars during 2013. 

~ Emil Khabiboulline / California Institute of Technology

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) – Zen temple in the city of Kyoto 

The summer of 2013 was one of the most memorable and rewarding times of my life, thanks in part to the Stamps Leadership Scholarship. It all started when I came to know a visiting postdoc at Caltech while playing a game of pickup basketball. Our conversations soon shifted toward science and eventually his research interests. I learned that he was currently involved in astronomy, a field that I was considering with much interest as a curious young Physics major. Already very much intrigued by our discussions, I was absolutely delighted when the postdoc offered an opportunity for me to conduct research with him over the summer. To add to my eagerness, I found out that I would join him at his research institute in Japan: the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), associated with the University of Tokyo. I had never stepped foot in Asia before, and Japan had captured my attention for a long time. I was absolutely ready to go!

Of course, such a journey had its fair share of hurdles to get past first. Fortunately, thanks to the generous help of my research mentors, Caltech and its Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program, and Kavli IPMU, preparations went smoothly and soon enough I found myself doing astrophysics research in Japan while experiencing the wonders of a new country. I am truly grateful to all the wonderful people I met there: from the researchers at Kavli IPMU who helped me grow as a scientist to the University of Tokyo students who helped me appreciate their campus, city, and country; everyone I met contributed to what became my favorite summer.

The Stamps Leadership Scholarship augmented the experience even more. The Enrichment Funds ensured that I could focus on science and culture rather than finance. In particular, I used the funds to take a week-long roadtrip around a good share of Japan. A visiting friend joined me in the action: We started off in sprawling Tokyo, experienced the history of the ancient capital Kyoto, ate amazing beef in Kobe, stayed overnight at a Buddhist temple on serene Mt. Koya, toured the biggest aquarium in the world in Osaka, summited Mt. Fuji and saw the sun rise over the Land of the Rising Sun, relaxed in the hot springs of the Fuji Five Lakes area, rode some of the fastest roller coasters in the world at Fuji-Q Highland amusement park, and finished off the journey with some cultural immersion in the modern capital. All of this was possible through Japan’s amazing bullet trains, which zipped us from place to place. And of course, the Stamps Leadership Scholarship allowed me the chance to enjoy such an amazing enrichment experience. ????? ????? (thank you)!


~ Anne Rodino / Purdue University

In Honduras, we traveled to two rural communities, where we set up medical clinics for two days each. In four days, we saw over 600 patients. At the clinics, we had licensed doctors, dentists, and pharmacists to see the patients, all at no charge. The local people, some having never been to a health center or seen a doctor previously, were able to see a gynecologist, have their teeth pulled or cavities filled, and receive free prescriptions. Every patient we saw at the clinic received multivitamins, in addition to the other medications we dispensed from our makeshift pharmacy. To stock the pharmacy, we brought antibiotics, asthma inhalers, medications for high blood pressure, allergies, diabetes, cough and cold, indigestion, heartburn, and more.

The Global Brigades organization and staff do much more in addition to their medical work. There are also brigades dedicated to water, public health, microfinance, architecture, and human rights. Their mission is to build sustainability in these communities, and this revolves around a strong program of education and partnership with the community members.

As a pharmacy student, it was very eye-opening for me to travel to these areas where healthcare was previously unattainable. I learned what it truly means to serve others, and I know I will be going on more trips abroad in the future to help those in need.


~ Andrea Berkemeier / University of Michigan

Through the generous support of Penny & Roe, I spent the summer before my senior year at UM on a 94 day adventure around the world. In May I set out to serve with the Society of Women Engineers at a junior high school in Walchandnagar, India and by August, I was studying Polish language and culture at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.  I traversed the 5000 miles that lay between these points with planes, trains, and cars, immersing myself in the various cultures along the way.  One of the most spectacular memories of this trip is featured in these pictures, when I was hiking the Rugova Mountains in Kosovo with my brother.


~ Julia Weiss / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I was invited to attend the University of Illinois Alumni Association’s China Summit this November; it was an amazing opportunity to travel for a week with inspiring alumni and Alumni Association leaders while exploring ways to better serve Illinois’ alumni in China. I am involved with the student branch of the UIAA, Student Alumni Ambassadors, and have also studied Chinese for seven years, so the trip really aligned with my academic and other interests. It was such an honor to travel with the Summit, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


~ Elise Dunn / University of Michigan

I’m a senior, and during second semester of junior year (February – July 2013), I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia at the University of New South Wales. The experience was nothing short of incredible, and each day was memorable. I was so lucky to be in such a beautiful, lively, and happy city, and without the Stamps Enhancement Funds, it would have been difficult for me to embark on such a journey and opportunity. This photo is of me (in the front) when I visited Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef . A group of us went white water rafting down the Barron River during our stay in Cairns, and this is a photo from the day! It was really exciting, and it definitely made the trip extra special.


~ Megha Mandal / Georgia Institute of Technology

In March 2013, I had the opportunity to go on a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic thanks to the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, Inc.! What made this trip special was that we volunteered at a children’s hospital, where we met the most beautiful little angels and their brave mothers. My favorite part was helping out in the children’s ward, where I taught the children basic math and English (and, of course, some games to help pass the time!). Here is a picture of me with a rambunctious little rascal named Juan!


~Alice Grasso / Purdue University

Let me start by saying this: I never thought I would travel to Romania. I love to travel, but I wanted to see all of Western Europe before I would travel anywhere else. But then, Purdue’s Honors College set up a Spring Break study abroad to Romania and I thought, “Why not go? I love to travel, I should get out of my Western-Europe comfort zone, and I have the time and the funds to do this…so I should go!” I am so glad I decided to take this opportunity. I went to a country without knowing any of the language or customs. This made me very nervous when I first set foot in the Bucharest airport, but I later found that I enjoyed being an outsider! It was fun to learn about a country I had never really studied before, and the scenery was absolutely breath-taking. I fully enjoyed my week in Romania; it definitely exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to travel again!

The pictures are from the top of Poenari Castle, a 15th century structure that is a 1480-step climb up the side of a cliff!


~Chris Lewitzke / University of Georgia 

Attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was a great experience for me in learning first-hand in the marketing communications industry. Being able to attend seminars about relevant issues in the advertising industry and hearing what leading professionals had to say about the future of these issues was an invaluable experience. Probably more valuable for me, though, were the workshops. At these workshops, half the time  there was a leading industry professional discussing a topic of their choice, but the other half an hour was spent working in small groups coming up with ideas. The best part was that even though I’ve taken an intro to advertising course and I’m sitting with people who have been doing this work for years, we still collaborated like a team. These workshops, personally, gave me a lot of confidence that as long as I work hard and keep getting experience through classes, I can definitely make it in the marketing, PR, or advertising business.

The other great side to Cannes was just the spectacle of it all. The awards ceremonies at night were fantastic because you really get to see what great advertising and communication strategies are. Sometimes we’re surrounded by unoriginal ads so much that we lose some inspiration. By going to Cannes, I came back knowing that it is possible to push the envelope and not settle for the status quo of advertising. Also, throughout the festival it was a great learning lesson to just talk to people who were attending from their agency. I was able to learn a lot about what agency life is actually life, something that’s difficult to portray in an academic setting. Almost everyone, after hearing I was a student, had some sort of advice to give that they learned upon entering the industry. I confirmed that this industry is something I really do want to pursue upon graduation and after attending Cannes Lions, I’m more excited than ever to continue studying marketing and public relations.


~Parker Vascik / Georgia Institute of Technology

Using part of my Stamps enrichment funds, I spent three weeks in Tamil Nadu, India supporting a non-profit hospital and an international relief organization called the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children.  I worked side by side with local doctors and nurses to diagnose and treat patients of all ages as well as assist in surgery and wound care. In addition to the medical work, I applied my business skills to develop the foundations of an alumni network and women’s support group for the organization. Not to miss an opportunity, I also took time in India to enjoy some unique hiking and participate in a local wedding.


~Katherine Sun / University of Southern California

This past spring break (March 2013) I was able to travel with my Global Leadership Program (GLP) to both Shanghai and Beijing.

In the picture (I’m on the right) I am in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. My class of 80 college freshman was able to travel for a week to China to learn about global business and leadership, and I not only learned so much about what it takes to be and run a successful multi-national company, but also made so many memories and friendships that I know will last for my next 3 years at USC and beyond.


~Joe Boltri / Georgia Institute of Technology

I was able to use the internship stipend to help offset the costs of an internship I was offered for The Carter Center’s Mental Health Program. It was an incredible experience in which I was able to carry out meaningful work towards advancing mental health awareness, both domestically and internationally. The summer culminated in a trip to Plains, Georgia, during which the interns were able to meet and interact with President Carter. I was able to ask him about how he met Mrs. Carter and to reminisce about his time at Tech (did you know that he lived in the building that is now the Bill Moore Student Success Center, home of the scholarship office?). In the picture that I’ve attached, he is explaining to me the physics of his Trikke, a kind of 3-wheeled scooter. (He figured as a Techie I would appreciate understanding how it works. He was right!)