Two UK Students Selected for Princeton in Asia

By Whitney Hale

(April 14, 2015) — A University of Kentucky senior and recent graduate have been selected for fellowships from the Princeton in Asia program. As part of the program, biochemistry senior Calvin Hong and 2015 arts administration and Spanish graduate Brittney Woodrum will teach in Hong Kong and Myanmar respectively.

Princeton in Asia (PiA) sponsors more than 150 fellowships and internships in 20 countries and is the oldest and largest organization of its kind, unique in its scope, size, century-long expertise and emphasis on service. The essence of PiA is to provide transformative, service-oriented experiences for bright, talented graduates and to serve the needs of Asia as determined by host institutions and Asian partners. PiA arranges fellowships and internships with Asian host organizations in the fields of education, health, international development, environmental advocacy, journalism, engineering, technology, law and business.

PiA Fellowships are the means of fostering person-to-person diplomacy, enhancing mutual understanding, serving vulnerable communities with unmet needs and providing transformative experiences for fellows and host communities.

Calvin Hong, the son of Boi and Fang Du Hong of Lexington, is a 2012 graduate of Henry Clay High School. He will graduate with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and a minor in Spanish in May.

Hong believes his PiA experience in Hong Kong will be as much a learning experience as a teaching one. "With the program, I hope to refine my teaching skills and gain a greater understanding for other cultures. By doing so, I hope to implement my newfound skills when I become a professor of chemistry."

At UK, Hong participated in undergraduate research as a member of the lab of J. C. Hubbard Professor of Chemistry John Anthony. His research found him synthesizing various pentacene derivatives in an effort to create novel n-type semiconductors. In addition, he was tasked to create a thiophene derivative to aid with polymer linkage.

Hong is very thankful for his opportunities working with Anthony, as well as Alumni Association Endowed Professor of Biological Chemistry D. Allan Butterfield and Director of UK Writing Center and Senior Lecturer of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies Judith Prats.

"Professor Anthony was the first professor who showed me how impactful chemistry could be. Using fundamentals of basic science, he showed me how chemistry can be used to help combat larger problems, like climate change. With this incredible success, Dr. Anthony has never forgotten his upbringing and the importance of contributing to society," Hong said.

"In regards to Professor Butterfield, his personal advocacy for minorities in the sciences was personally inspiring to me. His loving nature and enthusiasm for teaching has inspired me to go into teaching myself. He’s selfless, whimsical and all-in-all a great professor. Finally, I would like to thank Professor Prats. Having known her for four years, I can safely say that she is one of the most caring people that I have ever met. Her dedication to her students is simply amazing. Although I’m majoring in the sciences, Professor Prats has always reminded me of how important the liberal arts are as well. Her altruistic personality has morphed me into who I am today."

After his time of service with PiA, Hong plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry. As part of his future research he hopes to innovate new compounds for solar panels.

Brittney Woodrum, the daughter of James and Sherry Woodrum of Winchester, Kentucky, is a 2011 graduate of George Rogers Clark High School and 2015 graduate of UK. Woodrum, who is currently teaching English in Guadalajara, Mexico, as a Fulbright Scholar, will use her PiA Fellowship to travel to Yangon, Myanmar, to teach English and basic computer skills to the Buddhist nuns at the Dhamma Moli International Buddhist Education Center (DIBEC).

"I believe teaching offers a great opportunity to learn about a new culture, and I am extremely excited to see what lessons my next adventure brings," Woodrum said.

While at UK, Woodrum was very active in Student Activities Board, productions by the UK Department of Theatre and Dance and Education Abroad. She pursued her degree in arts administration as a way to exercise her love of the arts and ended it with an even greater passion for nonprofit organizations, giving her what she believes is a perfect foundation to enter the nonprofit sector.

After completing her service with PiA, Woodrum plans to attend graduate school. "I eventually hope to pursue an international administration degree to better prepare me to work with larger NGOs."

UK students interested in PiA may apply through the university’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. Part of the Academy for Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Undergraduate Education, the office assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with Pat Whitlow at the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards well in advance of the scholarship deadline.

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