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The Benton Scholars: Abroad

By Jessica Li on January 26, 2015

Infusing leadership and global themes into the Colgate University experience, the Benton Scholars program creates an educational environment that asks students to adopt an informed and critical view of emerging political, cultural, environmental, and economic issues. Just as importantly, scholars are expected to be outwardly focused: to share their insights with people on campus and throughout the global community.

Like many Colgate students, Benton Scholars often choose to study off-campus during their junior year. Unlike others, however, they are expected to stay connected to the program and each other while abroad–sharing their insights, collaborating from different points on the globe–with the goal of bringing different cultural and geo-political perspectives to bear on shared problems.

The Benton Scholars: Abroad blog functions as the locus for this collaboration. Each Monday during the spring semester, students will be sent a brief topic, idea, or problem, one that has resonance throughout the world. Students are then asked to submit a response–preferably a picture, video, or brief essay–which will then be published on this site. Responses need not be obvious: they can be creative, insightful, even clever interpretations of each week’s theme.

Entering its second year, we hope The Benton Scholars: Abroad blog will provide unique insight into topics of discussion and issues of concern that we all share in common.

This year’s contributors are immersed in different countries around the world, from Geneva to South Africa. Their profiles below:


Ryan Hildebrandt ’17

My name is Ryan, and I just got back from 4 months in Japan and 3 weeks in Korea before that. I’m from a small beach town in South Jersey called cape may, and I’m majoring in Psychology and Japanese.










Susan Price ’16

I am a Junior studying International Relations and Film & Media Studies. Though originally from Dallas, Texas I will be spending this semester studying abroad with the Colgate Study Group to Geneva, Switzerland. The program also includes a month long, language intensive home stay in Montpellier, France, two group trips through Western and Eastern Europe, and an internship with an NGO during the time in Geneva.





Adam Basciano ’16

My name is Adam Basciano and I am an International Relations major and Economics minor coming from Randolph, New Jersey. I am spending my Spring semester of junior year abroad in Jerusalem where I will be taking a multitude of courses including Hebrew, international relations, and Jewish studies.







Kevin Costello ’16

My name is Kevin Costello, and I am a Junior from Concord, CA (a short 20-30 minute trip from Oakland). I study Philosophy and Political Science at Colgate and hope to attend law school after graduation. While I imagine the Spring of 2016 won’t yield the most exotic stories or photographs, I’m very excited to “study abroad” in Washington, D.C. for the semester! I’m quite the political head, and as someone who has never explored Washington, I’m eager to share my new experiences regarding the movers, shakers, and locals in our nation’s Capitol with TBS-Abroad!



Jerod Gibson-Faber ’16

Hi readers, my name is Jerod Gibson-Faber.  I am currently a junior at Colgate University and am studying history.  I’m writing from London, England, as I’m also currently studying abroad.  During my time abroad I hope to immerse myself in local culture as well as complete my capstone paper for my major.  I love soccer and play on the club level while acting as the student manager for both the men’s and women’s varsity teams at Colgate.  I hope to attend as many games possible while I’m in the UK.

katrina_lab (1)

Katrina Bennett ’16

Katrina is a current junior from Leonardtown, MD, majoring in Neuroscience. Katrina’s main interests include public health, global health, infectious diseases, and small scale community development. At Colgate, Katrina is involved with the Shaw Wellness Institute, the Colgate Global Health Initiative, Oxfam, and other organizations. Katrina is beyond excited to spend a semester in South Africa and hopes to learn much about this fascinating nation.




Student Profile: Jacq Zier ’15

By Jessica Li on December 4, 2014

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Name: Jacq Zier
Class year: 2015
Hometown: Eastsound, Washington
Major: Molecular Biology/Premed

Benton senior Jacq Zier has spent her Colgate career fostering a love for biology. Jacq spent the last two summers interning in her home state of Washington at the SeaDoc Society and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

The SeaDoc Society does research focused on measuring and maintaining the health of the Salish Sea, a body of water that stretches from Seattle up through Vancouver. It is a large ecosystem which contains a variety of species. “Seattle and Vancouver are large urban centers that have unloaded a lot of pollution into the water,” Jacq explained. “In addition to that, the area has had a history of overfishing, especially salmon. In essence, the Salish Sea is a really vibrant marine environment, however it has a lot of stresses on it.”

During her first summer at the SeaDoc Society Jacq wrote a species profile of harbor seals. Her article was published in the encyclopedia of Puget Sound, a big project in the region. Additionally, Jacq has made significant contributions to the list of species of concern in the Salish Sea by compiling the four existing lists into one. “A list that accurately describes the status of species diversity is a better metric for looking at the health of the ecosystem, because it is complete, and shows that more and more species are becoming threatened every year”. Jacq presented her findings at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, and won first place for undergraduate presentations.

In addition to her contributions at the SeaDoc Society, Jacq had the opportunity to work as an Assistant Coordinator at the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network. “Harbor seals are the most abundant marine mammal in the Salish Sea,” Jacq explained. “Their population is at carrying capacity, which means that their populations are limited by food and space. This is a healthy sign for their population, however this also means that many of the seals will die. The population has an approximately 90% mortality rate.”

Mature harbor seals will reproduce once a year. Because all of the seals mate at the same time, they all give birth at the same time. This results in an annual pupping season, when the seals all have their babies within one month, usually July. During pupping season, the Salish Sea is filled with newborn harbor seals. Unfortunately, during this season, the young pups can also lose their mothers and get stranded on beaches.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act however forbids anyone to touch or help any protected marine mammals. “That’s where the marine mammal stranding network comes in. Anyone can call if they have a sighting of a stranded marine animal.” Jacq’s job was to respond to those calls, examine the baby seals, tag them, and monitor them after the physical.

Jacq’s experience on the team left her with a better understanding of the cross section between science and the community. She described: “Working at the Marine Mammal Stranding Network was a really wonderful experience because we were able to translate science to the community, and include people who aren’t normally involved in science. It was fun to share what I know about the biology of harbor seals with others, and to apply my knowledge to a worthwhile cause. People in the community get very attached to harbor seals, so it was fun to not only help the seals, but also talk to so many people who were touched by the seals, and help them understand the ecology and the biology of the animals that they cared so much about.”

By Jessica Spero Li ‘15




Benton Bio: Andrew Isaacson ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on April 1, 2014
Andrew Isaacson

Benton Scholar Andrew Isaacson ’17

First-year Benton Scholar Andrew Isaacson is passionate about giving back to his community.

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Andrew gained his first experience with volunteer work when he joined the staff of an emergency shelter, which assisted people living on Chicago’s south side. He has also extended his passion for community engagement to the medical field. Last summer, Andrew interned at the University of Chicago Medical Center in the psychiatry department, where he spoke with and assisted gambling addicts.

Andrew is also a firm believer in the importance of foreign travel and has brought that belief to Colgate. As a member of the international club, he speaks often about the importance of going abroad: how it helps us grow as people, how it brings more diversity to our educational experience. Perhaps not surprisingly, Andrew plans to major in Economics and minor in International Relations. He also hopes to attend graduate school and find employment in finance. In his spare time, Andrew likes to cook, read, crew (rowing) and play piano.

Benton Bio: Erin Huiting ’17

By Peter Tschirhart on March 10, 2014
Benton Scholar Erin Huiting '17

Benton Scholar Erin Huiting ’17

Erin Huiting is a first year from Evergreen, Colorado. Her passion for giving back to the community led her to Belize during the summer before her senior year of high school. While there, she assisted local hospitals with diabetes prevention education and outreach. Erin’s volunteer activities have also bolstered her passion for public health. As a member of the Global Health Initiative at Colgate, she discusses current issues of public health and plans to volunteer with the group in Hamilton. She is also a member of Habitat for Humanity. Erin intends to major in Molecular Biology at Colgate University, then pursue a Ph.D. in Epidemiology. She also plans to visit underdeveloped countries, where she will continue to pursue her interest in global health by serving the sick. During May, Erin will travel with Professor John Palmer and ’17 Benton Scholars to South Korea.

Benton Bio: Hanna Atwood ’14

By bentonscholars on April 4, 2013

394123_2350479121456_1558391376_nHanna Atwood is a double major in English and studio art at Colgate. Hailing from Dedham, MA, she has committed herself to Colgate and the surrounding Hamilton community. In addition to her academics, Hanna has been involved with other groups on campus outside of The Benton Scholar Program. As a member of Konosioni Senior Honor Society, she is involved with the planning of an annual auction that raises money to be put directly back into supporting local business endeavors. As a volunteer for Friends and Mentors Program, Hanna works alongside troubled youth of Madison County serving as a mentor and role model. She is also a member of Women’s Club Squash and enjoys cheering on any and all Colgate athletic teams!

The Benton Scholar Program encourages a global perspective. Hanna adopted this global perspective on the Benton Scholar funded trip to China after freshman year, and also traveled to Aix-en-Provence, France to study abroad for fall semester of her junior year. Hanna has also spent a significant amount of time in South Africa working with Ripples of Hope organization which engages families in community service projects; the organization partners with local non-profits in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

Benton Bio: Saffiate Ba ’14

By bentonscholars on April 4, 2013

Ba picSaffiate (Saffi) Ba ’14 is from Long Island, NY and is majoring in political science at Colgate. During her junior year she studied off-campus in Washington D.C. and interned in the United States Senate.

Saffiate is very passionate about education policy and youth development. She has worked as a camp counselor for four consecutive summers and is incredibly grateful and thrilled to work with some of Boston’s youth at Camp Harbor View this summer, as part of the Jim P. Manzi ’73 Fellowship. On campus, she works as a first-year mentor as a member of Link Staff and is actively involved as a leader for Colgate’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity as well as a children’s literacy group called Liberty Kids.

Saffiate is a Student Caller for the Annual Fund, a chapter leader for Students for Education Reform, and former philanthropy chair for her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Recently, she was admitted to Konosioni, the senior honor society that works to connect the Colgate student community to the greater Hamilton community through service work and leadership. Saffiate’s interest in the non-profit sector was sparked when she participated in Colgate’s Spring Immersion Fellowship in Washington D.C., where she and a group of students met with executives of non-profit organizations in Washington.

After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in the field of law, education or public policy; or pursue work in the non-profit sector.

Benton Bio: Viktor Mak ’15

By bentonscholars on April 4, 2013
Viktor Mak '15 in Uganda

Viktor Mak ’15 traveled to Uganda with the Benton Scholars program.

Originally from Hungary, Viktor Mak ’15 has lived in the United States since 2000. He graduated high school in Fort Myers, Florida before coming to Colgate. Viktor is majoring in global studies, a major traditionally not offered at Colgate, but inspired by the Benton Scholar Program. He is also minoring in Philosophy.

While on campus, and in addition to his involvement with the Benton Scholars, Viktor participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, serves on the executive board of the Student Government, volunteers for the Hamilton Mayor’s Office, founded The Open Society. He also serves as the Google Student Ambassador to Colgate.

After his freshman year of college, Viktor traveled to Uganda with the Benton scholar program where he began a philanthropy photo project. Viktor captured the images of over two hundred children, printed hard copies of the pictures, and then distributed them to the photo subjects. For some, it was the first picture of themselves they had ever seen. He spent the rest of the summer in Guatemala working for a Mayan weaving cooperative and in Budapest, Hungary interning at the Central European University.

Viktor plans to study abroad in Latin America in the Spring of 2014.

Benton Bio: Jacq Zier ’15

By bentonscholars on April 4, 2013

At Colgate University, I am a happy, busy student majoring in molecular biology and minoring in German. My home is on beautiful Orcas Island in northwest Washington. I attended a small public high school and served as vice president of the student government and captain of the rowing team. I graduated as a co-valedictorian of my class.

In high school I joined the Orcas Island Youth Delegation to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Each May I traveled to the U.N. Headquarters in Manhattan to participate with the Youth Caucus at the CSD. There I learned about issues of sustainable development, how to collaboratively write statements, and practiced lobbying government delegates. I also had the nerve-racking experience of giving a statement myself in front of hundreds of delegates at a plenary meeting.

In 2011, I joined the Alas de Rio Project, a documentary project featuring international youth working in sustainable agriculture. In June of 2012 I traveled with Alas de Rio to present our documentary at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I received partial funding from the Benton Scholars Program to attend Rio+20.
jacq rio picIn high school I also began my study of German. My high school didn’t offer German language classes, so I took online classes and attended the EF Language School in Munich, Germany, for a few weeks during the summer of 2010. Living alone in a youth hostel in Munich with limited language ability is certainly an experience I will never forget.

Now I have a heightened appreciation for the real German classes I take at Colgate. I hope to spend time in German-speaking countries after I graduate.

As a first-year Benton Scholar, I traveled to Rwanda and Uganda to conduct environmental health projects with my class. That was a fantastic, eye-opening experience. I now have the privilege of working with Professor Frey, a leader of the Uganda trip, in a lab that analyzes the data we collected.

Over last winter break, I also traveled with a Colgate group to Moscow. We visited historical landmarks and learned about Russian history. We stayed in the U.S. Embassy, which also gave us another interesting lens through which to view the city.

This upcoming summer I will do a short internship with the SeaDoc Society on Orcas Island and hopefully with the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs as well.

Benton Bio: Colin Shipley

By bentonscholars on April 4, 2013

ShipleyI am currently a sophomore Benton Scholar majoring in Chemistry and Economics. My interests include renewable technologies, entrepreneurship, soccer, and ping pong. Additionally, I have a passion for international travel, and I make a conscious effort to take advantage of any opportunity Colgate offers to travel abroad.

Since I arrived at Colgate I have traveled to nine countries, either with a Colgate group or having received funding from a Colgate organization. My favorite trip occurred in May after my freshman year when the 2015 Benton Scholars traveled to Rwanda and Uganda. From exploring the capital city of each country to helping with water sanitation testing in a rural village, everything about the experience seemed like an alternate reality.

I strongly believe it is important to explore the world outside the one in which you live and to learn and understand how others choose to live, whether next door or across the world. Colgate and the Benton Scholars program have helped me to pursue this goal to the utmost extent, and I know incoming students, Bentons and non-Bentons alike, will be afforded the same multitude of opportunities to get to know the world and better understand ours in the process.


Benton Bio: Adam Basciano

By bentonscholars on April 4, 2013

adam picAdam Basciano ‘16
Major: International Relations
Hometown: Randolph, NJ
High School: Randolph High School

For the past month or so, I’ve created a committee and group that will be going to this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in March in Washington DC. AIPAC PC is one of America’s largest lobbyist conferences and it focuses on the America-Israel alliance and issues. I have been working with members of the Colgate Jewish Union and Blue Diamond Society, as well as Junior Benton Evan Chartier to organize traveling, lodging, and registration for this 4 day conference. I was able to secure funding from the Colgate Jewish Union/Colgate Office of the Chaplains. Our committee will then brainstorm ways to bring AIPAC and its values back to campus, either with Brown Bags or Speakers.

At the onset of this past Spring Semester, I created a committee focused on the American-Israel alliance and the foreign policy that affects it. In early March, our group attended this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in Washington DC. “AIPAC PC” is one of America’s largest lobbyist conferences and this year it focused on specific issues such as the Iranian Nuclear program, political instability in the region, and US-Israel strategic cooperation. I coordinated the trip with members of the Blue Diamond Society and Colgate Jewish Union, as well as fellow Benton Evan Chartier (Class of 2014) to organize traveling, lodging, and registration for this 4-day conference. I was able to secure generous funding from the Saperstein Jewish Center. Currently, our committee is in the process of bringing an influential speaker we met at AIPAC to discuss the dangers of a Nuclear Iran and the necessary steps to deter it from happening. Other initiatives we are undertaking include a Holocaust Remembrance day for Yom Hashoa and future Israel-related events.