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Opeyemi Awe '15 Earns Watson Fellowship

Opeyemi Awe '15 of Germantown, Maryland, has been awarded a prestigious Watson Fellowship for one year of independent study and travel abroad. Awe, an international affairs major originally from Nigeria, is one of only 50 students nationwide to receive the $30,000 fellowship from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.

Awe will use her Watson Fellowship to travel to Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Rwanda and South Korea, and will explore how entrepreneurship has contributed to the economic development of each country. "I want to contextualize the economic growth of these nations in cultural, economic and historical terms," she says. "I also want to explore how evenly — or unevenly — that growth has been distributed."

Awe, who serves as president of the Student Government Association, originally came to Grinnell  intending to major in chemistry. But after an internship in Ghana with 2011 Grinnell Prize winner Challenging Heights, she turned her focus to international economic development. "I developed an interest in a more analytical view of the world," she says. As a Mellon Mays fellow, Awe is working on a project that relates migration patterns to entrepreneurial success in sub-Saharan African countries.

After her Watson year, Awe plans to enter the workforce for several years and then attend graduate school to continue her studies of international political economies.

Business Pursuits

Psychology major Fanchao (Frank) Zhu ’15 never expected to receive intensive business preparation as a liberal arts student. A scholarship through the College’s Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS) has changed his perspective.

The psychology major from Nanjing, China attended the prestigious Stanford University Summer Institute in General Management that he describes as “a mini-MBA.”

“The program gave me a taste of everything in business,” says Zhu, who works in his family’s small chain of restaurants. “Now I know what I am really passionate about in business — entrepreneurship and marketing.”

Liberal arts and business can combine into a powerful mix. Just peek into the college backgrounds of CEOs at some of the nation’s most well known companies. Hiring professionals also prize liberal arts students who can think creatively and critically.

Business Binge

The summer business programs inspire students and complement Grinnell.

“When coupled with their academic and co-curricular experiences at Grinnell, these summer programs expand and refine the participants’ soft and hard skills as they prepare for their post-graduate careers in business and other sectors of the economy,” says Mark Peltz, Daniel ’77 and Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80 Dean in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service.

Frank Zhu and Thatcher HealyLast summer, Zhu and Thatcher Healy ’16 (pictured) attended the Stanford Institute and Chi Nguyen ’15 and Joseph Wlos ’16 attended the University of Chicago’s Booth Summer Business Scholars Program.

Students studied finance, corporate operations, marketing, accounting, and human resources. They also interacted with professors, other students, and local business professionals. Students visited companies such as Intel, which was co-founded by Robert N. Noyce ’49.

Value of Studying Business

Healy, a biological chemistry major from Mill Valley, Calif., wanted to learn more about the business side of biotech.

“The Stanford program helped me understand how I could apply what I’ve been learning in Grinnell to a job in the future,” Healy says. “I feel equipped to market myself to a business or start my own business if I wanted to.”

All students can benefit from having a business background, Healy says.

“It is pertinent to most all fields of study,” he says. “Especially for those seniors who are lost on what to do after undergrad or how to apply their expertise into a lucrative career.”

The program has excited Nguyen about the possibility of earning an MBA after graduation. She especially liked working with a diverse mix of students from around the world.

“Academically, the concepts that I learn will help me with my senior seminar in macro finance,” she says. “Activities from the program also inspired me to start some similar workshops about business and professional skills in Grinnell.”

Opportunities for Summer 2015

Next summer 2015, CLS will offer two scholarships to Chicago’s Booth Program, which Peltz said fits well with Grinnell’s priorities. Scholarships include tuition, housing, most meals, and a travel stipend.

Fanchao (Frank) Zhu ’15 is a psychology major from Nanjing, China. Thatcher Healy ’16 is a biological chemistry major from Mill Valley, Calif. Chi Nguyen ’15 is a French and economics double major from Ha Noi, Vietnam. Joseph Wlos ’16 is a political science major from Crete, Ill.

Standing for Parliament

Win or lose, Todd Foreman ’95 will start a new chapter in his political life on May 7, 2015, election day in the United Kingdom. Foreman is the Labour Party candidate for North East Somerset, a constituency in southwest England. If elected, he’ll serve in the House of Commons along with 649 other Members of Parliament.

“This was the right time in my life to stand for Parliament,” Foreman says. “I don’t like what the current government is doing to health care nor the widening gap between rich and poor,.” Foreman says.

“Politics is something I’ve been passionate about for as long as I can remember,” says Foreman, a political science and French double major. He won a Watson Fellowship that set him firmly on the political path.

During his yearlong fellowship, he worked for the Labour parties in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. He examined the ways the party could advance equality for women, ethnic minorities, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. “My fellowship shaped my political values and political thinking,” he says. “I knew that in the Labour Party I had found my political home.”

Foreman earned a law degree at the University of Pennsylvania and in 2001 moved to London to practice law with an international law firm. He’s currently taking a break from his job with Axiom, an alternative legal services provider, where he specializes in banking and financial services law.

Banking is one of the issues Foreman cares deeply about. He earned a master’s in banking and finance law from King’s College, London, and his experience in the banking field is one of the reasons the Labour Party selected him to stand for this election.

“During the financial crisis in 2008 where taxpayers had to bail out banks and are still paying for it, that issue really resonates with people in North East Somerset,” Foreman says. “Bankers are not being held accountable. I think my experience as a lawyer will be valuable in Parliament.”

If he wins his election, Foreman has promised to be a full-time MP and not take outside work. And if Labour wins enough seats, Foreman says the party will crack down on MPs being allowed to have second jobs. He notes that his opponent, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative elected in 2010, works for a hedge fund in addition to his MP duties.

“I’m standing against one of the most right-wing MPs sitting in Parliament now,” Foreman says. “I don’t think he’s serving the priorities of the vast majority of people living in North East Somerset.”

If Foreman wins, this will not be his first successful race. In May 2014, he completed a term as a councilor, an elected position at the city government level, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

Foreman has since moved to the North East Somerset constituency with his spouse Mark Sutter. The two were married Dec. 22, 2014. “We are a partnership politically as well,” Foreman says. They’re both working full-time, unpaid, on the campaign.

Election campaigns in Britain are “very focused on door-step campaigning, going out and knocking on doors and meeting people,” Foreman says. Approximately 70,000 voters live in the constituency near Bath.

Money is needed, of course, but much less than in U.S. campaigns, he says. Money is raised for running the campaign headquarters, staff, leaflets, etc. Individual candidates aren’t allowed to do television or radio advertising.

Originally from Kansas, Foreman became a British citizen in 2006.