AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR POLISH CULTURESix winners of the 18th annual $5,000 Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski Scholarships were announced recently by Dr. Stephen Medvec, Chairman Pulaski Scholarship Committee, American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC). A large number of applications (23) were received this year. The scholarship program was initiated 18 years ago as a result of a sizeable endowment by the Conrad R. Walas family with continuing support from the Polonia.
$5,000 PULASKI SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS
Last year, long-time chairman Mr. Marion Winters retired from the committee and his place was taken by Dr. Stephen Medvec. Serving with him on the Pulaski Scholarship Committee for 2018 are Mrs. Alicia L. Dutka; Mrs. Deborah M. Majka, MS; Mrs. Carolyn Meleski, MS; 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 2018 Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies grants of $5,000 each:
Heather Burbick is pursuing a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the University of Texas in San Antonio. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and she has been involved in mission trips to Jamaica and plans to join Dentists Without Borders. Born and raised in the Polish community of Chicago, Heather is now more engaged with the Hispanic community in San Antonio and works with the homeless in San Antonio. She abides by the premise of Albert Einstein: "Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act."
Xenia Sylvia Dylag Murtaugh was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Xenia is an MFA candidate at the Mississippi University for Women. She has a Master of Arts in Central and Eastern European Studies from Jagiellonian University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Loyola University Chicago. She assisted in organizing the Jan Karski 2014 Memory and Responsibility Conference at Loyola University. In 2015 she was awarded the Illinois House of Representatives Certificate of Recognition by Representative Robert F. Martwick for "the Vital Role in Organizing and Hosting the 2015 Chicago Catholic Immigrants Conference which focused on the Polish Immigrant Community in Chicago." In 2017 she was one of the recipients of a Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union Scholarship. She is currently on the editorial staff of Ponder Review, and her flash fiction story Babcia's Old Gold is forthcoming in Issue 3 of Mortar Magazine. She lives with her husband and teaches literature in rural Oregon.
Paulina Paw - born in Krakow, Poland, US citizen since 2001 in Buffalo, New York - is currently pursuing her Master of Health Science in Physician Assistant Studies at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. Paulina also has a Master of Science in Infectious Disease and Global Health from Tufts University in North Grafton, Massachusetts and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the State University of New York at Geneseo. Her goal is to work especially with "pediatric patients who are inflicted with infectious diseases." Her advisor wrote, "Paulina has great empathy. "
Anna Pieta - born in Poland but immigrated to the United States at the age of eight months, U.S. citizen - is pursuing her Doctor of Medicine degree in Dentistry from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Anna is a graduate in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Bilingual, Anna wishes to practice among and to serve the non-English-speaking Polish community. Her area of specialty is caries: "an irreversible but preventable, infectious microbial disease process that results in loss of mineral from affected teeth. Caries are caused by organic acids that are a result of microbial fermentation of carbohydrates."
Alexandra Ewa Rojek is at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine entering her fourth year, and plans to pursue an academic career in internal medicine. She received her bachelor's degree cum laude in Chemical and Physical Biology from Harvard University, where her thesis research on cellular stress responses at the University of Chicago not only earned her the Hoopes Prize for outstanding senior theses at Harvard, but also the Henderson Prize, award to the most meritorious thesis in biochemical sciences. Her work on this topic has also been published, as a co-author, on two publications in the high-impact journal Cell. As a medical student at UCSF, she has continued to conduct research using natural language processing to understand implicit biases in medical education, and is passionate about medical education and student representation as the vice-president of the medical student body. Her commitment to the Polish community has remained strong throughout this time, with her involvement with the Harvard Club of Poland and as a consultant and mentor for the Ivy Poland Foundation, where she mentors younger Polish students about careers and education in the sciences and medicine.
Alexander Styk - born in Syracuse, New York, of Polish descent - is pursuing a joint graduate degree in Law (JD) and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Harvard University "to work in city and state government with the goal of making cities more innovative, equal, and efficient places." His undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College was focused on international relations, public policy, and economics. He has performed consulting work in healthcare, aviation, and industrial development. Alexander is a member of the Harvard Business Law Review. His advisor wrote, "among others, Alexander has a palpable affection for Poland."
The Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies Committee wishes these six outstanding students continuing success and is confident that they will attain their career objectives fully. The Committee trusts that they will honor their heritage by ultimately remaining close to the Polish community wherever possible during their careers.