Your Voice Your Choice: Young Alumni Challenge

Calling all alumni from the class of 2001 - 2010: join the young alumni challenge and decide where $100,000 will be spent!

Make a gift of any size, to any designation, before June 30, 2011 and you will have the opportunity to vote for one of three projects to receive $100,000 from the President's Fund. Members of the 10 youngest classes make up 25% of the alumni population: it's time to let your voice be heard!

Make your gift today at

Encourage your friends to vote and make a significant impact in the lives of Middlebury's current students. If you have already made a gift this fiscal year (July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011) but did not vote, you will receive an email with instructions on how to vote.

Check out the project descriptions below and see how the votes are going so far (votes are updated every ten minutes.) One vote per donor:

Votes So Far

Poll Report: Which of the Following Projects Do You Want to Receive a $100K grant from the President's Office?

Answer Text Votes %
Internships: Internships unlock career options, but many students can’t afford to intern for free. Give students the keys to life-changing opportunities. 347 61.2
Projects for Peace: Many great Middlebury proposals for Projects for Peace go unfunded. Give Old Chapel the green light to support additional projects. 121 21.34
Language School Scholarships: Give foreign language and cultural fluency to Middlebury undergraduates by funding scholarships to the Language Schools. 84 14.81
None of the above 15 2.65

What Happens When You Say Yes to Middlebury Students?

Real change in the real world--that's what!

Below you will read about three Middlebury students who received grants for an internship, a summer at the Language Schools, and a Project for Peace. Those grants have helped these students hone  their own talents and ambitions while benefiting communities around the world. Imagine what more Middlebury students could do with $100,000 in grants!
Language School Scholarships: Megan Mishler '11

Megan Mishler '11Megan Mishler ’11 knew from the start what she wanted from Middlebury.

“For a long time, I’ve wanted to be a Spanish professor. My passion for Spanish started with a high school summer in Mexico. I also have a passion for service, and I’ve been able to link those two together.”

Megan has combined Spanish and service to help found Juntos Outreach, a Middlebury student organization that helps meet social and educational needs of Spanish-speaking migrant farm workers in Vermont; she volunteered as a teacher in a rural Ecuadoran village for a semester, and followed up by organizing a J-term class for fellow students to do the same; she spent a summer in the Dominican Republic, working with farmers and their families at Finca Alta Gracia, the organic coffee farm owned by Middlebury author Julia Alvarez and her husband, Bill Eichner.

And those plans to teach college Spanish? Attending the Spanish School after her junior year beautifully integrated her cultural experiences with the advanced formal studies she needed for her thesis and graduate school.

“I’ve had a lot of nontraditional experiences in Spanish-speaking areas. I’ve learned plenty of slang and rural Spanish. But not only did I need some extra credit because of my semester off in Ecuador, I wanted to look at Spanish in a different way—as an academic subject. I wanted to return to the grammatical concepts, for example, instead of Spanish being me out there in an experience. My language level was high enough that I could go to the Spanish School at the graduate level, while getting undergraduate credit I needed. But I couldn’t have gone without a scholarship.”

Her minor in secondary education and her Spanish major qualified her for a College scholarship designed for future teachers.

“I loved being at Middlebury during the summer. I was in the beginning level of graduate courses—-I was definitely the baby in my classes. I had teachers from all over the world who really pushed and supported me. And I felt really supported by the older students, especially when I did a 15-minute literature presentation. A lot of my classmates were teachers and professors, and it was great to see how they were still growing as Spanish teachers.”

After finishing her thesis—-on how former Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo is represented in literature three generations later—-Megan will work as activity director for the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy at its Pomona College site. Then on to her academic ambitions: this fall she moves to Vanderbilt University for a Ph.D. program in Hispanic literature.

Internships: Ewen Bazirake '12

Ewen Bazirake '12Two health internships have convinced Ewen Bazirake ’12 to commit his education and skills to improving health care in his native Africa. Last J-term he teamed with Global Emergency Care Collaborative (GECC) founded by Mark Bisanzo, MD ’98, an organization bringing emergency room facilities and staff to rural Ugandans who’ve never had them. “Because I speak the language, I helped the doctors and nurses collect data and perform patient follow ups. I analyzed data for a proposal they were writing to expand their emergency services in Uganda. And I saw a lot.”

The previous summer, through a grant from the Mahoney family, Ewen interned in Banjul, capital of the Gambia, via the cross-cultural Gambia Vermont Collaborative. He was based at the country’s main referral hospital, lending a helping hand in this system strapped for resources and providers. He rotated through several areas of service, contributing his lab, writing, and analytic skills:
“I initially assisted the laboratory technicians in analyzing human samples for various infections. In the second and third weeks, I volunteered at the accident and emergency center and at the diabetes outpatient department, where I was responsible for profiling the patients before they got medical assistance. I was lucky enough to get some hands-on experience in the wards with the doctors’ supervision. In the final week, I worked with the Health Education unit at the Ministry of Health, and we travelled to local communities to promote an anti-polio campaign called ‘Kick Polio out of the Gambia.’ I helped prepare brochures and designed questionnaires to see if people were picking up the message. For participating, people would get a gift such as a cooking pan, a basin, or soap.”

He returns to his Middlebury studies with perspective, experience, and ambition.

“My internships have helped me connect the dots in my classes; what was just a lab report before has a new purpose. And previously, I had looked at health through statistics: so many people below the poverty line, so many mortalities. That changes when you’re there and you see people ailing and dying right in front of you. It’s increased my ambition to do something. There’s no reason people should die for treatable diseases, and this happens a lot in most of Africa. I believe there’s a way forward.”

Ewen plans on graduate work in public health and epidemiology, perhaps followed by medical school.

Projects for Peace: Dristy Shrestha '11

Dristy Shrestha '11Dristy Shrestha ’11 has brought together her struggling country’s youth and brought hydropower to the people through her two Projects for Peace (2010 and 2009).

A decade of bloody unrest resulted in abolishment of Nepal’s monarchy in 2008. The country is still struggling to establish a constitution, rule of law, and civil institutions. Meanwhile, what Dristy believes is one of Nepal’s strengths—its great ethnic diversity—is being undermined by Maoist leaders whose efforts to splinter the tiny country into autonomous ethnic regions are causing competition for privileges based on majority status.

“It saddens me to see the present situation of my country, which ideally should have been focusing on development but is being distracted by issues like ethnic tension. As a psychology major looking at the social psychology of these divisive actions, I know they have potential to become much worse.”

Dristy turned to the Nepal Scouts, a politically neutral organization that had helped shape her own pride in Nepal’s diversity. She knew from experience how Scouts, who range from 12 to 16 years old, developed friendships across caste and ethnic lines. “One of the Scout laws I remembered was, ‘We are brothers and sisters to all other Scouts.’ That summed it up for me. “

Fortunately, Dristy’s former Scoutmaster is now Nepal Scouts’ national commissioner. “I called him and said, ‘there’s this grant…’ I wanted to do something big for Nepali identity, available to the entire country. The Scouts know how to organize events, and my Scoutmaster supported it. They would never have been able to do something this big without the grant, and they added some money to it.”

The president of Nepal inaugurated the 4-day camping event, which almost 800 Scouts and Scoutmasters attended. Dristy was the official director of the camp, dressed in the green uniform worn by Scout leaders. The camp’s activities were based on peace and unity, and Scouts and leaders from all over Nepal gave speeches on that topic.

“It was so beautiful to see all these people talk. These are kids who don’t travel and who’d never been to the capital. We had a climbing wall, campfires, music and dances representing different regions, which Nepalis normally don’t get to see. It was an historic event for everyone.”

Meanwhile, as a result of Dristy’s 2009 Project for Peace, 63 households in two rural Nepal villages now have 24-hour electricity from microhydropower she helped develop. The villages are using the power for grain-grinding machines and other profitable projects. “The villagers now have control over it, and it’ll run as long as there’s water in the river,” says Dristy.