Hazel Jordan ’24
For many prospective college students, scholarships and financial aid packages play a huge role in not only where they choose to go to school, but also whether they stay. Widening the path to an Earlham education while enriching and elevating the student experience will ensure that there are more Earlhamites doing good in the world. Continuing to offer robust scholarship and financial aid opportunities is imperative to seeing these goals through.
For Hazel Jordan ’24, a combination of financial aid and Earlham-specific scholarships were the determining factors in their choice to attend Earlham.
Jordan, who was raised Quaker, first heard about Earlham in their quarterly and yearly Quaker meetings and the Friends General Conference. People in these spaces spoke so highly of Earlham that Jordan knew they wanted to apply.
“Scholarships completely impacted my college decision,” says Jordan. “With the scholarship opportunities that I have here, Earlham was the best financial option for me.” While they have an on-campus job at the greenhouse, Jordan acknowledges that without their scholarships, their academics and social engagements would suffer as they’d be required to take on more work. “I have to feel centered to […] take in new things and learn in a deeper way,” says Jordan. “I’m able to do that here without financial stress taking up space in my mind.”
During their time at Earlham, Jordan has engaged in the Richmond Residency program working with the Parks Department, collaborative summer research analyzing the carbon sequestration forest on campus and the Quaker Fellows program. Jordan also had the chance to work at a non-profit science summer camp, which was made possible through funding from their Epic Advantage.
Going to Earlham presents the opportunity for students to encounter new perspectives, widen their world views and deepen their understanding about themselves and the world around them. “Being able to grow and be myself here at Earlham has been amazing,” says Jordan. “I recognize that not everybody gets this chance.”
Ford Twumasi ’25
Math and Business
Ford Twumasi ’25 was just getting settled in for his freshman year when tragedy struck at home in Ghana. Fire swept through his mother’s business, and in an instant, everything changed.
Ford’s father passed away several years before, and the loss of his mother’s income made his future at Earlham uncertain.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Ford recalls. “That first semester was crazy.”
Situations like these are why the Clarence Cunningham Student Emergency Fund exists: to help students persevere in times of unexpected need. In Ford’s case, disaster struck. Sometimes the need is smaller but no less immediate—like the student who comes to Earlham from a warmer climate and can’t afford a winter coat, or the student facing food insecurity during a holiday break. For Ford, the support of the College and its donors meant he didn’t need to transfer or go home.
“Circumstances like this happen. Stuff like this happens,” says Ford, who plans to declare a major in math and business. “I love this place, and I’m so thankful that Earlham and its donors were able to jump in and provide me with support. That means so much to me.”
Since then, Ford has made the most of his time at Earlham as a member of the Men’s Volleyball Club, the Net Impact Club and Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine. He is also a convener of Student Activities Board, a volunteer with WECI-FM, a peer career coach and a resident assistant. He spent the summer of 2022 teaching math to local children through the Townsend Community Center as part of the Richmond Residency Program.
“Every institution I join—whether it’s a club or a college or my church—I try to be a member, not a number. I want to help the community, and I like to be involved,” Ford says. “Earlham is not just a good place for me, it’s the only place for me.”
Rutendo Magade ’23
Physics and Global Management
Rutendo Magade ’23 has found that Earlham’s commitment to the liberal arts has given her a sense of academic freedom. This commitment has allowed her to pursue a double major in physics and global management while she hones the skills needed to create her magazine, Munaku.
Munaku means beautiful person in Shona, a language in her native country of Zimbabwe. The magazine is meant to change the way people with dark skin are viewed in popular culture.
Inspiration for the magazine struck when Magade left Zimbabwe to finish high school in Thailand, where she noticed that Black people were underrepresented in the media. “I just remember feeling like Black people like me are not represented or seen at all in Thailand,” she said. “It’s like a demographic that is unrecognized or ignored.” Most hygiene products that she found in Thailand included skin whitening products, which is something she’s also seen back home and here in the U.S.
Magade saw (and felt) the need for representation of dark skin in media and popular culture, and took direct action to meet this need with the creation of her magazine. Her story reminds us not only of the importance a liberal arts education, but also of the impact Earlham students can make when they have access to the right resources.
Women from America, Africa, and Asia have written articles in Munaku, which speaks to the widespread issue of underrepresentation. Magade is inspired to use her platform to feature Black women and encourage self-love. “This is for Black women everywhere.”
Leigh Siler ’25
Study abroad experiences give students a unique opportunity to see the world through a new lens and meaningfully engage in cultural humility. For these reasons and more, off-campus study is central to an Earlham education. At Earlham, all students are encouraged to apply for off-campus study, which explains why more than 60 percent of Earlham graduates participate in a semester- or year-long program during their Earlham career. For many students, these experiences are made possible through study abroad funding opportunities.
Leigh Siler ’25 made it a priority to study abroad from the moment she stepped on campus. “I believe that an education is much broader than a classroom experience,” she says. “My intentions to travel were rooted in a commitment to learn through curiosity and connection.”
Leigh, who has a fondness for the Spanish language and mountain landscapes, was particularly drawn to the Ecuador program. She also has a great relationship with Rodolfo Guzman, the faculty supervisor for the program.
“Sitting at the dinner table with my host family is a rich environment for talking about politics and religion with my host mom, Elena, or learning about Ecuadorian Tiktok and memes from my host brother, Santiago,” Leigh shares. Moments like these, when connection and understanding are fostered, are reflected in the experiences of many Earlham students who study off-campus.
Considering the importance that Earlham places on off-campus study, it is vital to offer financial support to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to study abroad. These experiences enrich their education, cultivate life-long relationships and ultimately build an international network of support for Earlham and its constituents.
“Meeting other students at the university [in Ecuador] has proven to me over and over again how eager everyone is to connect and communicate, despite language barriers,” says Leigh. “Ecuador has provided me with the ability to see every moment as a learning experience.”
Marisol Cora-Cruz ’23
Marisol Cora-Cruz ’23 is a neuroscience major with a passion for addressing disparities in healthcare. Marisol was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship during her junior year at Earlham, which is one of the top undergraduate awards given in the natural sciences, engineering or mathematics.
“I am underrepresented in medicine,” says Marisol, who plans to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. program in epidemiology after graduation. “Less than two percent of physicians are female Hispanic—and even fewer of those are physician scientists.”
Marisol has noticed a need for better integration in the fields of medicine and public health, which is why she hopes to both serve as a provider and facilitator of effective communication between physicians and researchers about best practices.
During her Earlham career, Marisol has interned at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health as part of the Intern Philly Program. There her lab focused on researching factors relating to substance abuse, violence, HIV/AIDS, mental health and COVID-19 for the city’s Hispanic population. She has also engaged in public health research at Earlham and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. While in Philadelphia, she was the coordinating intern for the Earlham Center for Global Health’s externship program, which provides service-learning opportunities for students at local healthcare facilities.
“I hope to help improve the systems that have limited our access to adequate healthcare,” says Marisol, who has helped care for her mother for most of her life. “My hope is to one day return to serve as a provider and perform very needed research with the patients of Puerto Rico.”
An Earlham education has been instrumental in shaping who Marisol is and how she hopes to engage with the world. In many ways, this education is made possible through gifts to the Earlham Fund, which is used to expand and enrich student opportunities, retain talented faculty, and more. “Not only have I become more knowledgeable through my classes,” she says, “but I have had multiple faculty and staff members at Earlham who have helped nurture and support my passions.”
Isao Sakai ’24
Peace and Global Studies
Sometimes students come in with a plan, but those plans have a tendency to change as Earlham opens the door to new passions and possibilities. That is exactly what happened for Isao Sakai ’24, who discovered at Earlham that he wanted to focus on the underlying socio-political causes of climate change, rather than majoring in environmental science.
“I feel a sense of obligation as a person from a privileged country like Japan,” says Isao, a native of Tokyo, Japan. “I believe we cannot structurally solve [climate change] without addressing the underlying problems [such as oppressive dominance, colonialism, exploitation and patriarchy].”
Isao, who co-founded the national youth climate movement called Fridays for Future Japan at the age of 19, had already been the spokesperson for a number of climate strikes before arriving at Earlham. His activism, which has also involved public relations with NGOs, training events for activists and strategizing to challenge the government’s energy policy, has been featured by Bloomberg and earned him a spot on Forbes Japan’s popular 30-under-30 list for 2021.
Earlham attracts students who have a wide range of passions, many of them related to social justice—whether focused on the environment, race, healthcare, violence, income inequality, food insecurity, immigration or others. Gifts to the Earlham fund allow us to continue to support our students as they fight for a more just world in unique and creative ways
“One thing I tell people [who want to get involved in environmental justice movements] is to do something related to your passion,” says Isao, who is now a peace and global studies major at Earlham. “We need more creativity and synergies in order to diversify the ways we address climate change.”
Uapii Kandjoze ’24 and Rose Leon Alvarado ’24
Earlham is known for its excellent classroom experience, which is reflected in our consistent ranking in The Princeton Review’s Best 387 Colleges. While our leadership in the classroom experience will continue long into the future, opportunities outside the classroom allow Earlham students to put all of their theoretical knowledge into practice.
Internships challenge students in meaningful ways and prepare them for their lives after Earlham, regardless of their major or intended field. Despite the myriad ways that internship experiences are critical to a well-rounded undergraduate education, many students are not able to take on an internship due to their financial circumstances.
At Earlham, we believe that every student should have an internship or research experience that allows them to explore their field, gain new skills and build lasting relationships – whether here in Richmond or on the other side of the world.
Neuroscience majors Uapii Kandjoze ’24 and Rose Leon Alvarado ’24 were able to spend their summer in Cleveland, Ohio, at Case Western University working in the lab of Earlham alum, Dr. Andrew Pieper.
Under the mentoring of graduate students, Uapii and Rose were able to study different aspects of the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and the role of traumatic brain injury on neurodegeneration. Not only did this research experience enrich their Earlham education, it also gave them an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills in ways that will benefit the wider world.
Their research experience was supported by the American Heart Association, and Uapii and Rose were able to present their summer research at the American Heart Association’s Supporting Undergraduate Research Experience Summer Program Symposium. Internship and research opportunities like this one are instrumental in preparing students for their future careers. Our ability to fund these experiences with donor support makes internship experiences more accessible to all Earlham students now and in the future.
The Clarence Cunningham Fund
Earlham students inspire us every day as they reach academic milestones, take on new leadership positions and engage in necessary difficult conversations. These are the anticipated challenges that help our students grow. However, students also inevitably face unexpected circumstances that leave them in need of financial support. The needs are varied and unpredictable, but time and experience have shown us that there will always be a need for emergency funding.
We have created the Clarence Cunningham Student Emergency Fund so we can continue to meet these needs. This fund bears the name of Clarence Cunningham, Earlham’s first Black graduate, both to honor him and acknowledge that he was not supported in the ways that we hope to treat students today. Students should be able to turn to Earlham, for example, or if they need to fly home for a family emergency.
We know that financial burden does not happen in a vacuum, and this discretionary fund will allow the Office of Student Life to offer emergency aid to students through a lens of social justice.
“It’s important to endow this fund because this need will always be present,” says Bonita Washington-Lacey, vice president for Student Life and dean of students. “Having this funding available gives us the opportunity to continue the legacy and commitment of giving our students what they need without challenging or diminishing their financial aid package.”
Washington-Lacey, an Earlham graduate herself, felt the impact of receiving support as a student and has seen how necessary this type of funding is for students today. “For those of us Earlham grads, I think it’s safe to say that we all experienced help while we were here, and now it’s time for us to pay it forward,” says Washington-Lacey. “I want students to feel open, supported, empowered and comfortable knowing that when they’re vulnerable, they aren’t alone.”
For the birds (literally)
Biology majors Hannah Grushon ’22 and Thea Clarkberg ’22, along with a team of Earlham students, were able to join Earlham professors Jaime Coon and Wendy Tori during the summer of 2021 as they traveled to the Grand River Grasslands in southern Iowa. During this trip, the student-faculty team collected data, recorded nesting behaviors and assessed native plant communities in these highly threatened ecosystems.
“All of those technical skills we’ve learned will transfer to any kind of research that I do in the future,” says Clarkberg. “This opportunity has really helped me better understand what I want to do after Earlham.”
An Earlham education is a transformative one, in part because of experiences like this. “Our students are very motivated to fully immerse themselves and use the knowledge they have learned to solve real world questions and make a difference,” says Tori, who has had many opportunities to conduct and present research with students over the course of her career at Earlham.
In addition to joining the research experience in Iowa, Grushon had the opportunity to present at a conference with Coon and Tori about their research on the declining ecosystems of grassland birds. Experiences like this give students the chance to dive into research areas they are passionate about as they build transferable skills including data analysis, effective collaboration and compelling public speaking. Funding for these opportunities makes it possible for Earlham students to engage in meaningful research that prepares them for their future—for good.