Global Scholars Update

Piloted in the 2019-2020 school year, the Global Scholars Program has seen rapid growth since its inception. From three students obtaining the Global Scholars Certificate in the first year, to one the second, the program is now on track to have six graduating seniors this year with 10 juniors and two sophomores involved as well.
“We’ve seen some real growth despite the fact that the program launched and has only been offered during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Director of Global Initiatives Melissa Thompson. “Our first two years we were smaller, and this year we really exploded in terms of student interest and applications.”

Designed to give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in globally minded pursuits, the Chatham Hall Global Scholars Program is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Unlike programs in other schools, in which coursework alone suffices to obtain a certificate, the Chatham Hall program has myriad requirements.

Beginning with the application process, students must submit a 500-word essay outlining their interest in becoming a Global Scholar. Within this essay, students must include personal experiences (or lack thereof) which have sparked their desire to become global citizens. Once accepted, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA for the entirety of their program participation; complete four years of study of a world language; complete at least 5.5 credits of courses determined to have a global component; actively participate in an internationally focused club for at least two years with one year in a leadership role; participate in community service linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals; and complete a 25-page capstone thesis as well as present it to the public in a symposium in the spring of their senior year.

“I think something that really inspires students to join the Global Scholars Program is the fact that they can research a topic that they are really passionate about,” noted Thompson. “If you ask the students in the program to describe their research they just get so excited, a light comes into their eyes and they just go off on tangents about their topics.”

Currently students are researching a variety of topics including women’s access to education in various countries, the use of the Confederate battle flag in countries other than the United States, women’s access to healthcare, and much more.

“I was very interested in the ability to research a brand new topic, one that forced me to look at the world with a new perspective. It was really exciting to me that I could try something new, that was a big motivator,” said Catherine Malone ’22 who is researching how the ‘Korean Wave’ of popular culture has impacted socioeconomic status in South Korea.

“I wanted to look at which people actually received money, and how they live today. I actually got the idea from watching the Oscar-winning film Parasite. It is a commentary on South Korean social classes, and I could see how that tied into socioeconomics. I’d seen the popularity of South Korean culture impact the world, so I thought I’d look at how it all tied together.”

For Eva Melendrez ’23, the Global Scholars Program has offered an opportunity to dive deeply into her family’s history.

“I realized I would have the opportunity to research more topics and issues than I would be able to in a classroom setting. Issues that are dear to my heart, that I want to be able to research more fully. I’m interested in feminism and immigration because I’m a second generation American, my grandparents immigrated from Mexico. I have been dying to research that for the longest time because in school we don’t always get the opportunity to research that history — my history,” she said.

“My research is inspired by my grandmother, I see her as a feminist before her time. She came to the U.S. in her late thirties after having five of her children. She was interested in opportunities for better education and she left everyone and everything she knew, and I find that very inspirational. So my thesis at this time is how feminism has affected immigration or continues to impact immigration today.”

Melendrez plans to travel to Mexico during her time in the program to interview her aunts for her capstone project.

Thompson sees personal connections to research as a hallmark of the students who participate in the Global Scholars Program, and foundational to the growth she sees in students.

“One thing that I think connects everyone to their capstone is the personal connection to the topic,” she said. “Part of the capstone is a personal reflection, so there’s typically a personal reason they want to do this research. In other schools, global scholars programs are really just about taking certain classes and languages. There might be a senior year class. But our program has so much required of it that it really stands out to students as well as to colleges looking at what our students are doing. It’s a commitment, and it allows for real growth in our students, their thinking, and their roles as global citizens.”

Christine Leak ’22 has learned a great deal about herself during her time in the program and researching both women’s access to education in Afghanistan and the impact that women’s education has had on the economy of the country.

“When I started my research, I realized that I may be interested in pursuing a career as a women’s rights lawyer. I’m actually going to major in international relations in college to help me on this route. I didn’t know this about myself until this past summer when I started to learn more with my project,” she said.
For Ellery Blurton ’24, the opportunity for this kind of self-exploration was a motivation to join the program as a sophomore.

“I became interested in Global Scholars because it opens doors not only in the future beyond high school but it allows individuals at Chatham Hall to learn more about their interests and what they want to apply in their future,” she said. “ I’ve already realized so much of what I’m interested in alongside my normal coursework.”

“I thought it was a really unique opportunity that Chatham Hall offered. I’ve always loved research and saw this as an opportunity to really dig into a big topic: gender bias in medicine. I’m looking at how women are not often studied in medicine, and how it negatively affects them in terms of healthcare. I’m hoping to study in Norway to see how they study women’s health and how that affects the way women are treated when seeing healthcare professionals. It’s a really cool opportunity. Even though it’s extra work, it’s a lot of fun and it really pays off in the long run," said Caroline Greganti ’24.

“I would tell any student to think about what interests them, and if there is a topic that speaks to a more international scale and they think they will continue to be interested in it during their years at Chatham Hall, then they should join the Global Scholars Program! At the very least they’ll gain a lot of knowledge about something very few other people probably know about and you can always bring that out as fun facts later! There are really no drawbacks to the program. It’s all a lot of fun, and there are great advisors in the program that help make everything feel a lot easier," said Catherine Malone ’22.

“Being a Global Scholar is definitely worth it. It seems like a huge project to write a twenty-five page paper, but Ms. Thompson helps you start early and stay on track," said Christine Leak ’22. "I personally also like learning and writing about new things, and Global Scholars allows you to choose whatever you feel most passionate about — literally anything in the whole world. Now I get to spend a whole year learning more about it, and going more in depth than I would in any other class."

“It’s a lot of work and a time commitment, but if you are passionate about it then go for it. I came to Chatham Hall from a public high school and I never expected to have the opportunity to do this," said Eva Melendrez ’23. "So, take this opportunity, take this leap, you never know where it can take you!”

“Chatham Hall has so many great opportunities for global community engagement," said Ellery Blurton ’24. "For example, we have a lot of opportunities for global and domestic travel. There is the Hallam Hurt Award, as well as iQuest and Discovery Challenge, so students can use any or all of these for more specialized study.”
800 Chatham Hall Circle  •  Chatham, VA 24531
+1 434.432.2941  •
Day and boarding school for girls grades 9 -12 in the Episcopal tradition.

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