Pulaski Scholarships 2013


by Marion V. Winters

Five winners of the $5,000 Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski Scholarships were announced recently by Mr. Marion Winters, Chairman Pulaski Scholarship Committee, American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC). A record number of applications were received this year. The scholarship program was initiated 13 years ago as a result of a sizeable endowment by the Conrad R. Walas family with continuing support from the Polonia.

Serving with Mr. Winters on the Pulaski Scholarship Committee for 2013 are Mrs. Deborah M. Majka, MS; Mrs. Carolyn Meleski, MS; Mrs. Carol J. Surma, Esq.; and Mr. Peter J. Obst, MA. The exceptional qualities of school work and research plus dedicated community services performed by the applicants made the final selection process quite difficult. The Committee felt that most of the applicants deserved recognition for their outstanding achievements and honestly wished that funding was available that could have allowed for several more awards.

The Pulaski Committee selected the following students for the 2013 Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies grants of $5,000 each:

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Aleksandra M. Babiarz of Baltimore, MD, who earned an AB degree in Chemistry and Physics, Magna Cum Laude, at Harvard University three years ago, is presently a medical student at the Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine.

Aleksandra's considerable research experience includes serving as the Neurology Research Program Coordinator at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Currently, she serves as a member of the Applications Review Committee in the "Droga na Harvard" (Way to Harvard), a scholarship based competition, which was created to raise the awareness of the possibility of studying at Harvard and other premier American schools among students in Poland. In the past few years she had served as president of the Harvard Polish Society; taught Polish to school-aged children; and served as a Polish Lector at a Catholic church.

A Physiology Professor at the Univ. of MD School of Medicine describes Ms. Babiarz as an outstanding and highly motivated student "whose passion for medicine is coupled with her compassionate desire to help her patients overcome their illness. I have no doubt that she will become a superb physician."

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Marta Krajniak is a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. in New Jersey, anticipating the doctoral degree in May, 2016. She has been serving as a Psychology Extern in the Neurology Dept., Mount Sinai Medical Center, NYC, since last June. There she not only administers comprehensive neuropsychological assessment batteries to a diverse child, adult, and geriatric clinical and research population, but also performs bilingual and monolingual Polish intake interviews. Additionally, she is a volunteer in the Emotion Regulation Clinic, a therapist in the Child Anxiety Disorder Program, and an Adjunct Instructor/Freshman Seminar preparing curricula to aid students in transition to college and holding two individual mentoring sessions with each student.

It is interesting to note that Marta believes that her "transition as a teenager from a placid life in Poland ('where she was born') to a busy and culturally diverse New York metropolis provided her with the first opportunity to observe the impact of such dramatic events on the human psyche". Her dream is to eventually open a community center that provides low or no-cost mental health services to the Polish community, believing that she can make a difference in the lives of individuals. In this respect, one of her professors writes that "beyond her excellent academic capabilities, Marta's passion to serve others truly sets her apart". Another professor who chairs her dissertation proposal believes that Marta "is embarking on a most promising career as a clinical researcher".

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Krzysztof Lukasik, born in Poland, is working on a Master of Science degree in Transportation Engineering at the State University of New Jersey, which he expects to earn in Jan. 2014. His work experience over the past three years has had him working in transportation departments in Krakow, Poland and NY State. Since March of last year, he has been employed at the Rutgers Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory.

Krzysztof's awards include Dean's List at Rutgers, the Skalny Scholarships for Polish Studies in 2012 and a scholarship from the Polish American Engineers Assoc. in 2011. He has served as Secretary in the Rutgers Polish Club for three years, wherein he planned and lead a 37 days road trip around the U.S. and represented the Club at the Polish Student Organization's Intercollegiate Conference at Yale University. A Rutgers University professor who oversees Krzysztof's thesis project (graded A) finds that this student excels in homework assignments, presentations, and group projects, and has "tremendous confidence in Krzysztof's ability to succeed".

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Natalie Misteravich received a BA degree in Slavic Studies with a Polish Concentration in 2008, and then gained a Master's Degree in Polish Studies three years later. She is currently working on a doctorate in Polish Literature and Culture with a Czech Language & Literature minor at Indiana University. Next January she will be conducting dissertation research in Krakow and Warsaw, Poland for six months. Natalie's academic advisor professor views her dissertation proposal Nowa Huta as Subject and as Author: A Cultural Study of Agency, "as innovative in that it bridges various disciplines while retaining a clear focus on a single urban development that has attained the status of infamous Stalinist experiment in redefining Polish lifestyle".

With respect to community activities before her move to Indiana Univ. in Bloomington, IN, she had been extremely active in promoting Polish culture in metro Detroit. She was a choreographer and instructor for the Polish Alliance Dancers and Polanie Song & Dance Ensemble. She was a delegate to the PNA Council as well as Vice-President of Youth for a PNA Lodge. Natalie won a $1,500 scholarship when she was an undergraduate student from an ACPC Affiliate, Friends of Polish Art (FPA), Detroit in which she is a member.

Natalia's extensive Polish studies include three weeks at Jagiellonian Univ. in Krakow; 10 years as a student in Saturday Polish Language Classes at the Pulaski Language School; three week-four summers Choreographers Course in Poland; and eleven trips to Poland. Her list of thirteen awards includes the FPA (2), Skalny (ACPC) (1), PNA (5), Kosciuszko Fdn (2), Title VII Summer Funding -- Jagiellonian (1), Wayne State U. (1), and American Institute of Polish Culture (1).

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Ann Hardt Williams, the married mother of three teenage children, has completed the Master's Degree coursework at Harvard University with a GPA of 3.74 and is currently researching and writing an approved thesis proposal. In 2012, she conducted archival research in Poland and Ukraine. A Harvard Divinity School professor finds Mrs. Williams to be a "profound historical thinker whose Master's thesis grew out of the final research paper in his course. He awarded her an A+ for the paper and an A (highest grade possible) for the course. Mrs. Williams based her thesis on her discovery of an interesting, under-interpreted, almost unknown 80 page manuscript diary of Adela Poest Hardt (1891-1977). It is the professor's conviction that "this diary can be used to augment our knowledge of the social and cultural history of WWII in Poland. It is an invaluable contribution, and in my view, potentially publishable".

Mrs. Williams professional experiences cover a period from 1979 to 2001. She had served various firms in the capacities of Engineering Placement Consultant; Director of Marketing; Senior Account Manager; Sales Rep. for Money Magazine; Sales Supervisor; and Managing Editor for the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her immediate academic goal is to complete her Master's degree by writing a compelling thesis that will be used for academic journal articles and test and extend key hypotheses from the thesis for a book project. Career goal is to combine academic interests with her background in marketing to bring Polish culture and history to a wider audience.