The Class of 1962, at their 25th Reunion in 1987, established the Thomas H. Kean '53 Fellowship Program to honor Tom Kean, their teacher, advisor, mentor, and friend. The purpose of this fellowship is to enable students to explore important public policy topics and to embark upon exemplary lives of public service in the spirit of Governor Kean.
Selected by a committee of St. Mark's professionals, the 2022 Kean Fellowships were awarded to three highly qualified students who proposed to undertake independent research and study in the field of public service and to explore meaningful public policy issues: Sophie Ledonio '23, Veronika Kitsul '22, and Anika Sukthankar '23.
Ledonio's "Let's Learn About Daca" proposal outlined a plan to research, study, and share information regarding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in order to come to a better understanding of the immigration process and look for plausible solutions for those under DACA. "I want to educate my peers on DACA and bring more awareness to the issue and its effects," wrote Ledonio, who will conduct research and interview various political and public policy organizations in the Washington D.C. area about their perspective on immigration and DACA, and then create a podcast, write a LEO article, or design a Saturday Class Course in order to share information and teach others at St. Mark's. "The number of DACA recipients is growing in this country, with the total number reaching over 600,000 people," shared Ledonio. "I believe that it is a very important topic to discuss with my generation because this is an issue that will continue to grow as we do."
Kitsul, an international student from Ukraine, proposed to continue her research on the Space Race through the lens of communication and propaganda; to do this, she traveled during spring break to Washington, D.C., to conduct research in the Smithsonian library archives. "This past semester, I was a part of History Research Fellowship class, where I explored Space Race Cartoons from both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to look in depth at their themes and messages," shared Kitsul. "The Space Race took up a big part in the history of the United States, and there are many books, articles, events, and people connected to it. I believe that it is through the cartoons that it's easiest to understand the public's feelings towards it because the main purpose of the cartoons is to lampoon the government to point out societal faults. I have already produced a 110-page paper about the topic, however, my ultimate goal is to create the biggest collection of Space Race cartoons and publish it. Therefore, I would like to continue working on my project by looking for more non-digitized cartoons in the archives and libraries connected to the topic throughout the country."
Sukthankar's "Technology and Government Policies" proposal expressed a desire to pursue a course at Cornell University entitled "STS 1101: Science, Technology & Politics." The course covers a broad range of topics such as privacy, civilian surveillance, national security, and government policies, and Sukthankar plans to share the knowledge learned via multiple avenues at St. Mark's, including a LEO article and presentations of findings to a St. Mark's Saturdays class and various clubs. "As technology evolves and becomes an integral part of our society, the controversies around its proper use and associated governmental policies have become increasingly complicated," wrote Sukthankar. "We are building complex socio-technical systems that affect all aspects of our lives. It seems to guide our very behaviors and thinking. From the addictive nature of social media to privacy concerns, governmental policies seem to be lagging technological advancements. Recent events, including Capitol hearings, have made this topic of great interest to me and I would like to learn more about it."
Congratulations to this year's Kean Fellowship recipients!
Pictured: This year's recipients with Tom Kean '53 and two previous recipients of the Kean Fellowship, Catherine Pellini '20 and Kanav Sahani '23.