Honors Fellowships

Donations at Work

Undergraduate Research at William & Mary

Dintersmith and Honors Fellows explore their passions

Meredith Howard is diving into Spanish archives to study the famous witch-hunt of Ziguarramurdi.

Sam McVane is examining the portrayal of Indian ascetics in Greek literature written after Alexander the Great’s invasion of India, particularly within the works of the Greek author Philostratus.

Amy Clinger is researching unwed motherhood in Morocco and is hoping to raise awareness of this global issue through social activism.

Brian Focarino is investigating how linguistics applies to a trademark law known as the Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents.

Brittney Calloway is exploring effective discipline strategies for middle schools.

Last spring, 12 students received fully-funded Honors and Dintersmith Fellowships to support their undergraduate honors projects. A fully funded Fellowship costs $6,000- $4,000 for 10 full-time weeks of summer pre-honors research; $1,000 for project-related expenses; and $1,000 for the student’s faculty advisor. Dintersmith Fellows were funded thanks to the generosity of Ted Dintersmith, ’74, while Honors Fellows received their funding through a new online donor system. Although the students are finished with their initial summer research, they are currently in the process of developing departmental honors thesis, which they will complete and present to faculty committees in the spring.

“The Dintersmith Fellowship captures the elements we value most here,” said Joel Schwartz, director of William & Mary’s Roy R. Charles Center. “It combines the teaching and research missions of the College; they’re brought together as one. . . Until now, students would start their fall with their honors thesis looking at them. They’d had no chance to gather data, do interviews, undertake research. The fall term would get going and they’d have four or five classes. The idea behind the Dintersmith is to allow them to hit the ground running on their projects by allowing them to begin them the summer before senior year.”


Meredith Howard (History, advisor: LuAnn Homza, Professor of History) spent this past summer researching the largest witch-hunt in Spanish history: the 1609-1612 witch-hunt of Zugarramundi. During her time in Spain, Howard discovered a neglected manuscript document that details the arguments of two inquisitors, Valle and Becerra. Her goal is to “unpack Becerra and Valle’s presumptions, thought-processes, and values through a deep and careful reading” of the codice.

Howard became interested in this particular witch-hunt during a prior visit to Pamplona, Spain. She was looking for archive documents linking children and witchcraft, when she found the inquisitors’ manuscript.

Now that she has returned to campus, Howard finds it difficult to be away from the manuscript. “The joy of the Dintersmith Fellowship is that I got to go back in the summer of 2010 and spend time in Madrid at the Archivo Historico Nacional.”

Howard eventually plans to enroll in a PhD program, where she is interested in studying the role of foreigners in Spanish policy. “This vote of confidence is a sign that I am on the right track and this is something I should be doing with my life. For a lot of people, archival work is not fun, but I really enjoy being able to read these peoples’ lives echoing up from centuries past.”

Howard is the editor-in-chief of the Colonial Echo and the Chair of the Publications Council. She belly dances with the school’s troop and cares about media and the arts, and she visits the Muscarelle many times during the year.
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Sam McVane (Classical Studies, advisor: William Hutton, Associate Professor of Classical Studies) spent his summer researching gymnosophists, a Greek term meaning “naked philosopher,” within the context of Greek literature. His research addresses two main questions. First, how are these gymnosophists portrayed in Greek literature between the 1st and 4th century A.D. and second, does the portrayal of Eastern aesthetics vary depending on the identity of the Greek author himself?

Sam first became interested in Greek ascetics while taking a course about Alexander the Great. This is a logical connection since a great deal of the literary tradition involving Indian wise men originates with him. In a Greek novel course, Sam then realized that there was also a literary tradition in Greece involving the ascetics. “The Greeks were so interested that the characters show up in Greek literature for hundreds of years after Alexander’s era,” says Sam. Although the Greeks typically thought of themselves as culturally superior to the rest of the world, they thought of India as a mystical place that held the key to a secret: especially profound wisdom.

Not only was this research incredibly interesting to Sam, but now that he is applying to graduate programs, he is thankful to have had the opportunity to conduct research during this past summer. He is interested in pursuing further research involving this topic during his graduate study. “This fellowship opened up a particular realm of scholarship, the relationship between the Western world and India, a sort of up-and-coming field,” he said.

Sam has spent much of his time at the College of William & Mary as the layout editor for the Virginia Informer, and he enjoys hiking, backpacking, and yoga.

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Amy Clinger (Interdisciplinary Studies, advisor: Fred Smith, Associate Professor of Anthropology) is creating an ethnography of unwed motherhood in Morocco by using participant observation and interviews. In the future, she hopes to turn this research into a public awareness and outreach effort.

During her summer in Morocco, Amy volunteered at two local women’s shelters in Rabat. She became interested in her research topic when she realized that “Moroccan society excludes as well as socially and legally marginalizes this segment of the population. These women and their children are deeply stigmatized, their lives and futures profoundly limited.”

Amy hopes to use her remaining summer research funding to translate her thesis into Arabic and French in order to increase awareness of the issue abroad. “There isn’t much information because people don’t talk about the subject.” She is also interested in starting an organization to raise funds and give back to the communities that helped with her project.

Amy believes she will be ready for graduate work after completing her thesis, a research process that would not have been possible without funding. In addition to this funding, Clinger appreciated donor participation on the Fellowship Blogs. “It’s really nice to see that kind of interaction. There is less of a disconnect between the donor and the recipient.”

Amy plans to conduct doctrinal research on unwed motherhood on a global scale and will be participating in the Teach for America program in Hawaii next year. She has been involved in the Sharpe Program since her freshman year and is currently the program assistant at the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship. She enjoys archaeological digs, dancing, and movies.

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Brian Focarino (Linguistics, advisor: Anne Charity Hudley, Assistant Professor of English and Linguistics) focused his research on the Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents, a trademark law that requires words to be translated to determine whether or not they should be registered or if they are confusingly similar to pre-existing marks. “Through my research, I will seek to examine the larger question of how the monopoly of standard language assumptions in law can have ethical implications in trademark disputes.”

Brian became interested in this topic when he was Christmas shopping last year. “We encounter such a dizzying array of trademarks and language in our daily lives.” After a trademark presentation given by law professor Laura Heymann, he realized the assumptions trademark law makes regarding language capabilities.

The Honors Fellowship allowed Brian to spend his summer in Williamsburg. This valuable opportunity allowed him to survey different literary sources while staying in close contact with his faculty adviser. He also used his time this summer to conduct interviews with relevant sources at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He will spend his senior year completing and presenting his thesis on this topic.

Brian is currently a Senior Honors Fellow, William & Mary tour guide, and a President’s Aide. He is also involved in his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. His hobbies include tennis, travel, and spending time on the Terrace.

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Brittney Calloway (Interdisciplinary Studies, advisor: Lori Korinek, Professor of Special Education, School of Education) has focused her research on increasing teachers’ awareness of effective discipline practices as a first step towards successful implementation. In order to learn more about discipline strategies, Calloway immersed herself in the topic through courses, service trips and class visits. “My observations led me to conclude that typical discipline systems seem punitive and exclusionary especially towards students from underrepresented populations.”

Now that her initial research is completed, Calloway is disseminating her findings through a wiki page that she will share with local teachers and school districts. “This initiative will allow educators to spread the information they learned through their own social networks of teachers year after year.”

The honors process has allowed her to develop not only her research, but her goals as well. After graduation, Calloway plans to attend law school to study the root causes of injustice in the education system. She would like to work towards becoming a director of a Legal Aid Justice Center to improve public education in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. “In college, I transformed from a volunteer who tutored and mentored children, to an active citizen who can now teach others about the underlying issues in our education system.”

Calloway is the William and Mary NAACP President, and Co-founder of the Pearl of Great Price mentoring program. She is also involved in College Partnership for Kids, the Women’s Leadership Program, and the College-Wide Diversity committee.

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