Announcing the Victor Worsfold Grant for Community Service

The Alumni Association of the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program Invites All UTD Undergraduates to Apply for a Victor Worsfold Grant for Community Service

The Eugene McDermott Scholars Alumni Association is inviting all University of Texas at Dallas undergraduates to apply for one of its inaugural Victor Worsfold Grants for community service.  Named after long-time UT Dallas School of Arts and Humanities faculty member Dr. Victor L. Worsfold, the Association intends to fund projects that target the broad array of challenges that our local, national, and international communities face.

“We are looking for creative solutions to important community problems,” said Andres Correa, Chair of the Association’s Grants Committee.  “And since the Worsfold Grants is a new initiative, our aim is to impose few limitations on the type, structure, and scope of community work and encourage innovation instead,” he added.

Students can apply on their own or in groups, and the grants will not be limited to any one type of community work or discipline.  Whether the project proposes to alleviate poverty, support education, or spread the arts, and whether it seeks to do so in our University, city, nation, or even abroad, the Worsfold Grants offers grants as low as $250 and as high as $1,500 per project, depending on the project’s proposed budget and needs.

“The Worsfold Grants is one way in which the Association wishes to preserve and extend the legacy of service and leadership of the McDermott family,” explained Alex Garcia-Topete, President of the Association.

The Grants Committee will be composed of UT Dallas faculty, staff, and alumni, and it intends to award up to $3,000 in grants in the Spring of 2015, and it expects to fund a set of grants each Fall and Spring semester.  When selecting projects to fund, the Committee will evaluate things like the significance of the community problem to be addressed, the soundness of the approach, how innovative the approach may be, and whether there will be any collaboration with existing community resources, among other considerations.

Applications are now available by emailing mcdermottalumni@gmail.com, and they must be submitted to the Committee no later than April 17.


 

Dr. Victor L. Worsfold was a UT Dallas School of Arts and Humanities faculty member from 1975 to 2001.  Dr. Worsfold taught courses in ethics, social and political philosophy, the philosophy of education, and the humanities.   For nearly a decade, Dr. Worsfold served as a consultant to the McDermott Scholars Program and as an advisor to its scholars. Dr. Worsfold passed away on April 21, 2013, but he will live on forever in the minds of scholars and alumni alike as a treasured member of the McDermott faculty.

The Eugene McDermott Schollars Alumni Association is a 501(c)(3) organization composed of graduates of the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program of the University of Texas at Dallas.  The Program annually selects promising, high-achieving high school seniors and provides them with an education emphasizing intellectual and scientific development, leadership, community service, charitable giving, cultural enrichment, and international study.  The Association seeks to build and promote these educational goals by supporting and improving the quality of the Program’s student experience, advising the Program, and contributing to the progress and development of the University and the greater Dallas community.

 For questions regarding the Worsfold Grants, please write mcdermottalumni@gmail.com

Irene Morse ’10 Bikes Across America

Irene Morse, a 2010 McDermott Scholar, recently finished an epic adventure bicycling across the country with the organization Bike & Build. Bike & Build is a nonprofit that enlists 18 – 28 – year – olds to bicycle across America and raise money and awareness of the country’s housing crisis along the way. They do this by fundraising at least $4500 prior to the trip and by working with Habitat for Humanity at various points along the trip.

Irene completed the Providence to Seattle (P2S) route after fundraising over $5100 for affordable housing. Her group consisted of 29 young adults from across the country and stopped at 10 different locations to help build houses for low-income families. The money they raised was pooled, and the riders themselves reviewed grant applications and awarded over $40,000 to various organizations addressing the affordable housing crisis. Irene herself plans to donate $500 of the money she raised to an organization that addresses housing issues in Jackson, Mississippi.
During the 71-day trip, Irene sent email updates to those who donated to the cause or otherwise supported the trip. Some of the hardest moments included an outbreak of scabies among the riders in Iowa, a century ride in Wyoming in extreme heat with minimal water, and climbing Teton Pass into Idaho. Some of the most exciting moments included roadside ice cream stands in Pennsylvania, seeing Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming, and riding through the Northern Cascades of Washington.
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This amazing trip was made possible in part by the support of McDermott scholars, staff, and alumni. Now that it has ended, Irene plans to find a job in Austin in politics or with a nonprofit.

Daniel Erwin ’01 Releasing New Storage Software With BitTorrent

Congratulations to Daniel Erwin ’01 on the release of Sync, the new storage software from BitTorrent. As an interaction designer, Daniel played a major part in making Sync functional for the public to use.  He told us more about what Sync is, what his role in the project was, and how he went from original McDermott Scholar  to where he is today:

I got into design because I wanted to build things. During my time studying abroad as a McDermott Scholar, I stumbled across these weird museums in Northern Europe devoted not to paintings but to everyday, functional objects. I was amazed to find that there is a field of study whose extents exactly matched my career aspirations at the time – the making of everything from spoons to cities. It took a couple more years for me to get over the idea of becoming a professional artist, but eventually I went to grad school for industrial design. I thought the coursework would help me prove my hunch that, given any object or system, I could imagine a more clever way to build it than had ever been conceived before. With the help of my professors, I eventually pushed my hubris into remission, and realized that I love working with technology. 
Currently I’m working for BitTorrent, an old company by tech standards, with its origins around the time I was grappling with the novelty of connecting to WiFi networks in the UTD on-campus apartments. Many people associate BitTorrent with that era in internet history, back when any couple engineers in a garage were liable to whip up something that could change the world. While it has graduated to a new level of professionalism and polish (like my own role there, for instance), BitTorrent still has a lot of that rebellious spirit. It has taken to heart an important lesson about supporting the people who create content as well as those who consume it, but its mission is still about using distributed architectures to give individuals power over our digital world.
I’ve been working on my current project for more than 8 months, but since I don’t want to give this audience the hard sell, I’ll just say that if you find your centralized, cloud-based file storage is too slow, too stingy with space, or too infiltrated by the NSA, you should probably give BitTorrent Sync a look. It’s a bit of a paradigm shift, since it’s all based on user-owned devices (the data isn’t on any server). Explaining this new paradigm to users is my biggest challenge as a designer for Sync, but as we overcome it we’re moving above and beyond the current competitive field, so it’s the kind of struggle I’m enjoying.
As an interaction designer, my work is generally split between envisioning the interface layer of new features and functionality, convincing my colleagues that these are good ideas, and then working with developers to evolve them into something that can be built within the schedule. This generally consists of a lot of workflow diagrams, clickable prototypes, and user testing sessions, but my personal favorite is the wireframe drawing. There’s something really powerful about a prototype that’s half-way between a written, text-based description and a pixel-perfect, full-color visual mock-up of the software we’re going to build. Since it’s much quicker to understand than a block of text, and much quicker to modify than a Photoshop document, I find wireframes the ideal medium to help clarify discussions about user needs, technical constraints, and business objectives all at the same time. 
You can read all about the startup lifestyle on a million other blogs so I’ll spare you the details, but here’s a photo of me in the office (yes, that’s a fully-adjustable-height standing desk!),
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and of a recent work-sponsored rafting trip with a few coworkers from the Minsk office (my first time rafting since our inaugural trip down the Colorado back in 2001). That’s me in the front just enjoying the view, while the others are working hard to keep us from tipping!
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Rachel Markowitz ’04 Returns From Internship In Rwanda

Rachel Markowitz ’04 recently returned from a summer working and studying in Rwanda. She shared with us why exactly she was there, and what kind of work she was involved in during her time in the country:

As part of my graduate studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin, I spent the summer in Rwanda interning on regional projects with Search for Common Ground. I honed my writing skills for reports, grants, and advocacy. I also gained in-depth knowledge about the dynamics of conflict throughout Africa and especially in the Great Lakes Region, and networked with conflict management and international development professionals.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the internship, however, was when I facilitated three community-building workshops for petty traders on the Rwanda-DRC border using my favorite tool – Ultimate Frisbee. This was a dream come true for me as I saw my passion come to life. 
You can learn more about my work through my blog posts on Search for Common Ground, the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, and the Baines Report.
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Kayla Klein (’10) Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship

Congratulations to 2010 Scholar Kayla Klein on winning a graduate fellowship from the Phi Kappa Phi honors society. We asked Kayla to explain the fellowship she won and to tell us a bit about what she’s up to now:

The Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship is awarded to students based on academic merit, leadership, and service who are planning to enter professional or graduate school. I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent UTD’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi this year. I plan on using this award when I enter into the University of Michigan Medical School in August of 2015 after taking a gap year to do research, finish my Master’s Degree in Applied Cognition & Neuroscience at UT Dallas, and plan a wedding [with 2011 Scholar Ryan Marcotte]! In the future I hope to pursue a career as a pediatrician so that I can work as a public health advocate for children’s mental health. While at Michigan, I also plan on attending a lot of football games and visiting the wonderful alumni network that we have in Ann Arbor!

Klein, Kayla

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Sagar Shah ’10 begins med school in Hawaii

Congrats on getting in to med school to Sagar Shah ’10!  Sagar is attending the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii.  He has promised to spend more time in the hospital than on the beach! Aloha!

We asked Sagar about why he chose Hawaii and what his experience has been like so far. Here’s his answer:

I picked Hawaii because everything about the school seemed like a place I could see myself at when I interviewed. The people were very inviting, the school focused on teamwork rather than competition, and the curriculum was not based on lectures. Rather than memorize, regurgitate, and forget, the school focuses on PBL or problem based learning where students actively learn and teach each other. It is a method of teaching that also works as their average STEP-1 scores(boards) are ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Last week was orientation week and we had our white coat ceremony. It was a very symbolic moment, and I really think all of us were taken aback by the significance of the ceremony after taking the Hippocratic oath. Classes have already begun in full swing and I’ve started to get busy. I definitely miss UTD and my family back home. The five hour time difference isn’t always the best when you want to talk to family, but I’m enjoying my studies and learning quite a bit about the new culture here. I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for the help and support of the McDermott Program. I count my blessings everyday! 

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Can you spot Sagar? sagar1