AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR POLISH CULTUREby Marion V. Winters
$5,000 PULASKI SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS
Five winners of the 14th annual $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 14 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 2014 are Mrs. Deborah M. Majka, MS; Mrs. Carolyn Meleski, MS; Mrs. Alicia L. Dutka; 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 2014 Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies grants of $5,000 each:
Elizabeth Figus is a social scientist committed to the development and implementation of responsible fisheries management plans worldwide. Her experience includes physical labor in the Alaskan commercial fishing industry and academic fisheries research on two continents. Presently, Ms. Figus is a Fisheries PhD student in an interdisciplinary program called Marine Ecosystem Sustainability in the Arctic and Subarctic (MESAS) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She began her PhD studies in 2012 as a National Science Foundation Fellowship recipient. Her hope is that working with fishermen in Poland and Alaska during her dissertation research will not only strengthen relationships between scientists and fishermen, but also forge connections between fishermen in both regions.
In June 2010, Ms. Figus earned a Polish Language Certificate after a one-year full-time study at the Jagiellonian University, which was underwritten by The Kosciuszko Foundation. In May 2012, Ms. Figus obtained an MA in Central and Eastern European Studies at the Jagiellonian University following a two year program of full time study. Her thesis was Silent Voices: The Polish Baltic Sea Commercial Fleet Seven Years After Accession to the European Union. During her time at the Jagiellonian U. she served as an Intern at the Centre for Holocaust Studies, which involved translation of critical documents.
A letter of recommendation from a University of Alaska professor indicates that Ms. Figus dissertation proposal is of superior quality and she has distinguished herself in advanced courses. The professor also praises her community work.
Julian Klosowiak the eldest of four sons of Polish emigrants, is in the sixth year of a nine year Medical Scientist Training Program that will result in an MD/PhD degree. He has served the Polish community as a volunteer and interpreter at a free health clinic in Chicago. During 2007-2008 he was a Fulbright Fellow and a Whitaker Fellow at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Universite Paris Descartes in France.
The subject of Mr. Klosowiak's PhD research is the Miro protein, a controller of kinesin-based transport of mitochondria. Julian is studying the link between the miro protein and Parkinson's disease. Already he has solved the X-ray crystal structure of this protein and received international recognition for this landmark piece of work. Receiving the Pulaski Scholarship will make it possible for him to spend nine months at the Curie Institute in Paris and work in the field of structural biology with world-class expert Anne Houdusse.
His professors at Northwestern have unanimously endorsed his work. One writes "I have no doubt that he is on course to become a truly exceptional physician-scientist, intellectual, and scientific leader."
See YouTube clip from Polish TV (Julian Klosowiak appears after the 3:00 minute mark)
Joseph Pomianowski received a Magna cum Laude BS degree in Applied Mathematics and Cellular Biology in 2009 from the University of Connecticut and was awarded an AM degree in History of Science from Harvard University in 2010. From September to December 2010 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. He is currently enrolled at Yale Law School where he is applying his graduate training and Fulbright experience to become a better legal scholar for a future career in teaching law.
During his time with the University of Connecticut, Mr. Pomianowski tutored and mentored underprivileged high school students and was an Emergency Medical Technician Volunteer. As a member of the Yale Polish Student's Society, he has helped organize Polish dinners and promoted Polish culture and heritage at student-wide events.
Mr. Pomianowski's Professors at Yale Law School have written glowing recommendations on his presence in the classroom. One of the professors wrote "He is obviously a very smart student, exceedingly capable and with a quick mind. But he does not wear his smarts on his sleeve. To the contrary, he has a gentle wit and good sense of humor."
Anna Ziolkowska Weissman is a third year doctoral student in Political Science at the University of Florida. Her three fields of study are: International Relations, Comparative Politics and Women's and Gender Studies. Anna's unique research project focuses on identity Politics and feminist theory, specifically in Poland and broadly within the rest of Central and Eastern Europe. Her preliminary research from the past two years has demonstrated that the majority of women in the early stages of democratization in Poland (1989 to the mid-1990s) did not self-identify as equal citizens.
Ms. Weissman is an active participant in the Polish Student Association, which works closely with the Center for European Studies in sponsoring arts and cultural event. Recently, the Center won the support of the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S. to create the "Getting to Know Europe" program, a series of cultural and academic events that are open to both campus and the larger community of Gainesville, FL to experience European arts, performances, exhibitions, film screenings and public lectures.
Of her dissertation proposal, her advisor has stated that "it is the best of any student I have advised (and there have been a dozen so far)". Receiving the Pulaski Scholarship will help finance Anna's dissertation research trip to Poland to fulfill vital research goals: to confirm the availability of documents in archives located in Warsaw and Gdansk and to begin the process of analysis, to cultivate relationships with key individuals and to interview women involved in the opposition movement.
Mateusz S. Wietecha is enrolled in the seven-year Doctor of Dental Medicine/PhD (DMD/PhD) program, which is part of a multidisciplinary Oral Science Training Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The program is geared to training dentist-scientists to lead in the academic and scientific advancements in oral healthcare. He is scheduled to graduate in 2015 and is hoping to continue with his research to better diagnose and treat oral and systemic diseases such as oral cancers and ulcerations.
Mr. Wietecha has been involved in numerous extracurricular activities and most recently that of Vice-President, National Student Research Group. He and other students of Polish descent have organized and hosted the annual Polish dental student ognisko (bonfire) along with other student members of the Polish American Medical Society.
Mateusz also appreciates music and musical performances. After seeing and hearing Rafal Blechacz's rendition of Chopin, he was inspired to begin learning to play the piano. A letter of recommendation from one of his university professors asserts that Mateusz Wietecha is an "extraordinary young man who will make important contributions to the improvement of human health".
The American Council for Polish Culture is highly pleased to have chosen such exceptional scholars for the 2014 Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies. Polonia may take pride in the remarkable accomplishments of these students who will be playing leadership roles soon in their respective fields and may be expected to continue their participation in Polonia activities within their communities and beyond.