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J. Rowland Illick Prize

Established in 1986 by friends, colleagues, and former students in honor of Professor Illick, geography professor for 40 years. Awarded to a graduating geography senior whose achievements best exemplify Professor Illick’s standards of excellence and humanitarian concern.

The department welcomes nominations of graduating seniors in geography from students, staff, and faculty, including self-nominations.  Please submit your nominations to the department chair with a brief rationale by May 1st.

Professor Illick's geography class, 1955.

2021 Award Recipient

Rebecca Strull  ’20.5

From her very first semester at Middlebury, Rebecca used geographic frameworks to examine questions of equity, justice, and improving the lives of socially and spatially marginalized populations both within the United States and across the globe. Her intellectual curiosity drew her to wide ranging topics including the maintenance of Mayan identity among Guatemalan immigrants in the US to the precarious living conditions within Colonia settlements along the US – Mexican Border. Her work in Uganda is perhaps most emblematic of the spirit of Professor Illick. During a semester abroad, she examined refugee mobility within resettlement areas to determine the extent to which these microscale relocations enabled a greater degree of refugee self-sufficiency. She continued conducting research in Uganda in a project focused on understanding how increasing land competition is affecting mothers’ strategies for investing in children’s future livelihood opportunities in rural areas. It is clear that Rebecca’s engagement with Geography over her four years at Middlebury truly embodies Professor Illick’s geographic curiosity, standards of excellence, and humanitarian concern.

2020 Award Recipient

Rebecca Wishnie '20

An intellectual and activist, Rebecca has been awarded the Illick prize for 2020, for her excellence in the classroom and for her great commitment to social justice. In her studies, she has shown that no theoretical question is too small as she challenges existing theories and produces new ones. Armed with geographical, feminist, and queer theories, she has pushed our understanding of mobility, activism, and borders, developing new ways of thinking about the spatial, corporeal, and affective dimensions of bordering. In addition, through her activism on behalf of migrant workers in Vermont and her work with a rising generation of Afghan women in India, Rebecca has contributed to the repair of the world (Tikkun Olam), which underlined Professor Illick’s teaching and remains his legacy.

2019 Award Recipient

Hannah Krutiansky '19

Over the course of her four years at Middlebury, Hannah has showed unwavering suppport and compassion toward addressing the plights of refugees and asylum seekers in search of safe harbor in the United States. She spent the summers after her sophomore and junior years interning with RAICES-- a nonprofit based in San Antonio working to help migrant families detained at ICE facility in Karnes County, Texas. Hannah recently led a group of students on MALT trip back to the area in February of 2019. Under Hannah's leadership, these students worked with the detainees to help them prepare for the "credible fear" interviews, a critical step in the asylum process. She is deeply passionate about the plight of these international migrants and exemplifies the spirit of Rowland Illick, the founder of Geography at Middlebury College.

2018 Award Recipient

No Prize Awarded

2017 Award Recipient

No Prize Awarded

2016 Award Recipients (shared)

Luis Fernando Sandoval Jimenez '16

Fernando's humanitarian and social justice work is exemplary. He has volunteered on behalf of the marginalized and poor in Meexico and made humanitarianism the centerpiece of his academic work in geography. He is currently volunteering as a cartopgrapher for a tenants' rights association in Oakland, California that is acrive in anti-eviction advocacy. Fernando is an exceptional student and global citizen who exemplifies the tradition of olberal arts and the mission of Middlebury College.

Levi Westerveld '16

Levi's work was consistently concerned with human welfare and experience and geographical approaches to understanding these. Inhis art and research he has been compelled to bring attention to the struggles of Chinese migrant workers, Jamaican apple pickers in the orchards of Vermont, French farmers, and indigenous populations, His primary interest is in sharing stories in multiple formats to increase understanding of human experiences and the promotion of rights and welfare. He exemplifies the well-rounded and successful liberal arts student broadly, and is a high achieving, caring, and dedicated geography graduate.

2015 Award Recipient

Moria Ann Sloan '15

Moria discovered Geography during the spring of her first year at Middlebury, and quickly saw it as a discipline in which she could engage questions related to global health and the underserved. Her first substantive term paper examined the controversy surrounding Nestle’s program to encourage young mothers in Africa to use formula rather than breastfeed, and her interests have expanded from there. As a junior, Moria participated in a study abroad program taking her to cities in Latin America, South Africa, and India – a truly global experience.  The capstone of Moria’s undergraduate career was her senior research project examining the experiences of refugees living in urban environments in Uganda. Her project involved four weeks of intensive fieldwork in Kampala, and she then situated this work within the intersecting bodies of literature from urban geography and refugee studies. Thus, from the point she first discovered geography to her senior capstone research, Moria Sloan truly embodies the spirit of the Rowland Illick award: a commitment to understanding and helping marginal groups and an interest in engaging the world abroad.

2014 Award Recipient

Molly Rose-Williams ‘14

Molly's work as a student and active community member throughout her time at Middlebury exemplifies the high standards and depth of commitment that Professor Illick demonstrated. While doing excellent work in both branches of her joint major in Geography and Environmental Studies, Molly learned Chinese during the Summer Language School, a month-long immersive program in Beijing, and study abroad in Kunming. Her intent focus on academics did not preclude Molly from giving generously of time to community projects. Molly was the President of Habitat for Humanity for much of her time at Middlebury, leading local weekend building projects and week-long trips every year to Pungoteague, Virginia. Molly became a chef as a long-time member of Club Dolci and managed volunteers running the farm and kitchen at the Charter House Coalition. Her extracurricular interests fed back into academic work, as demonstrated in her independent study on the historical geography of American food regimes. Molly's resilient spirit, critical intelligence, and love of exploration make her an outstanding recipient of this award.

2013 Award Recipients (shared)

Anna R. Clements ’13 and Hannah M. Judge ‘13

Anna and Hannah are awarded the Illick Prize for their exceptional work in creating, testing, and carrying forward a model for assessing public health among needy communities was a team effort from the start. Their idea for developing “Grassroots GIS” stemmed originally from a shared concern about the lack of good health care in many parts of the world. Anna and Hannah studied issues of public health in every course available and advocated strongly for the creation of a Global Health minor.  They encouraged other students through their activism as leaders in GlobeMed. Building on a strong academic base, both conceived of a project using GIS to assess health status in rural communities, using GPS and GIS to collect and analyze field data – and then secured funding to test this model in Rwanda. The excellent results of Anna’s and Hannah’s research not only confirmed the value of their approach but made this project a model for how other Middlebury students can put their intellectual interests and technical skills to use in community service. Their work beautifully illustrates Professor Illick’s values and hopes for Middlebury geographers. 

Department of Geography

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
287 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753