When a Single Gift Makes a Lifetime of Difference

In 2013, nearly 75 students were chosen to receive the honor of a scholarship. Here are some of the faces and stories behind Bread Loaf’s 25 named scholarships.

One Drop of Water
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Chantal Kénol-Desmornes (pictured at right) first glimpsed Bread Loaf in 2011 while involved in Andover Bread Loaf, a collaboration with Phillips Academy offering educators graduate credit for participation in an intensive writing workshop. Her application to Bread Loaf’s master’s program was, she describes, “a leap of faith, for I was not sure I would be able, financially, to sustain the effort, year after year.”

Yet Kénol-Desmornes, coprincipal at an all-girls private secondary school in Port-au-Prince, has returned every summer, thanks in part to the generosity of Bread Loaf professor and scholarship supporter Andrea Lunsford.

Lunsford, the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of English Emerita at Stanford University, has been involved with Bread Loaf since 1991. She has served as a faculty member, on-site director, and member of the Bread Loaf Advisory Board.

“I’ve met some of the best teachers on Earth at Bread Loaf,” she says. “They are a fearless crew, and so very open to new knowledge and, most of all, so devoted to their students … They are the heart and soul of Bread Loaf and they keep me totally committed.”

In 2008, Lunsford established a scholarship named for Middlebury College’s first African American graduate, Alexander Twilight in 1823, to honor students who have worked to advance diversity at Bread Loaf.

“I stumbled across Alexander Twilight and his story by accident when I was doing some research, and I fell in love immediately. He was a man of such conviction, and whose influence was felt across the state. As the first African American known to graduate from a U.S. college or university, he represented to me the principles and ideals that inform the very best of Middlebury and Bread Loaf. So I wanted to recognize and honor his legacy.”

For Chantal Kénol-Desmornes, the 2013 recipient of the Twilight Scholarship, his pioneering example “extends to my work as an educator in Haiti, where too many are prevented from access to basic instruction, let alone higher education.”

A teaching manifesto Kénol-Desmornes wrote for her Bread Loaf course Multilingual Writing helped strengthen her resolve to enable her students to find and define their voices and “think critically about the things that matter to them, so they can progressively claim, build, and transform their community.” This year, she reports, “more student-generated activities are being planned and carried out than ever before in my school.”

Kénol-Desmornes recognizes that she is just one student for whom financial aid has made the pursuit of a Bread Loaf master’s degree possible. “Every drop counts and a little drop goes a very long way,” she says. “Through my experience with Bread Loaf, many young minds will be touched and transformed.”

A Family Legacy
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Hazel Haseltine Adkins (pictured at left), Class of 1916, the grandmother of John Platt ’80, established a scholarship fund upon his graduation from Bread Loaf in 1991. His grandparents, mother, and sister attended Middlebury before him, and Platt recalls that the scholarship felt like “a touching and compelling way to cement that family connection in perpetuity. Of course, I was honored and thrilled to be the catalyst to that legacy.”

“Middlebury was always part of the family to me, so it was a natural and delightful step when I thought about graduate school to look there. I had no idea what I was getting into in terms of how powerful a place Bread Loaf would turn out to be.” Platt likens the world of ideas, conversation, and activity at Bread Loaf to a fantastic ride. “Who wouldn’t be thrilled,” he asks, “to help someone truly enter that world. It’s like buying someone a ticket to the coolest amusement park ride ever. You step off the ride and are never the same again.”

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Josh Rilla (center in photo at left), one of three 2013 recipients of the Adkins Scholarship, couldn’t agree more. He has been transformed by literary discussions that carry on late into the night and being a part of what he calls a “real education” at Bread Loaf.

And his students get to share his ride. As an English teacher at a private school in Massachusetts, Rilla has plenty of freedom to design curriculum. Each fall, he is inspired to create a new senior elective based on his experiences at Bread Loaf. “In my first summer, Tyler Curtain set my mind on fire in his science fiction class. Using my notes from class and one of the reading selections, I built a senior elective called SciPhi, which combines science-fiction literature and film with ancient and modern philosophy.”

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“I wanted to make good on what I’d been entrusted with,” fellow recipient Danny Shaw (at far left in photo at right) says. An assistant director of admissions at Belhaven University, Shaw will also begin teaching in the fall. He felt honored by his connection to Hazel Haseltine Adkins and thought of his award as “a commission to excel.”

Shaw received his MA last summer. Reflecting on the financial aid that made his Bread Loaf experience possible, he says, “I’ve always valued the totality of my experience. It affects the way I think, read, communicate, and interact. When you do the math, that financial assistance has had a profound effect on my life as a whole, not just in various professional compartments.”

“Bread Loaf,” he continues, “teaches you not to shy away from the text but to approach it with confidence, to come face to face with it—not with the aim of wrapping it all up neatly but to continue unfolding.”

Read about 2013’s third Hazel Haseltine Adkins Scholarship recipient Nathan Gleiner

If you are interested in establishing a scholarship, please contact Ann Jones-Weinstock, director of development for Graduate and Special Programs, at 802.443.5863 or ajoneswe@middlebury.edu.