Weekly Bulletin
March 20, 2000
Vol. 89, No. 20
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Fellowship winners cross disciplines

Lilith Wood (r) with her cousin and coworker, Alice Perry, dressed for work at the cannery, summer 1998


Ken Shaitelman (Photo by Denise Applewhite)


By Steven Schultz

Crossing the boundaries of academic disciplines can be daunting, but for the winners of this year's Sachs and Dale scholarships, that approach has paid off.

Ken Shaitelman, recipient of the Daniel M. Sachs '60 Scholarship, is a classics major working toward certificates from the Woodrow Wilson School and the Program in Russian Studies. Lilith Wood, who won the Martin A. Dale '53 Fellowship, is majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, is interested in mathematics and history, and plans to be a writer.

Sachs Scholar

"When it came time to pick a major at the end of sophomore year, I agonized about it," recalls Shaitelman. He had been enamored of classics and the ancient world since sixth grade, when he first studied Latin. About the same time, however, the experience of finding his Russian grandfather's birth certificate "written in beautiful Cyrillic script" sparked an interest in Russia. He studied both Latin and Russian at Princeton and also became exposed to public policy and international affairs through the Woodrow Wilson School.

In the end Shaitelman majored in classics, believing it would be a broad foundation for his other interests. His senior thesis compares the acculturation of Jews in ancient, medieval and modern Russian societies.

With his Sachs Scholarship, Shaitelman plans to pursue an MPhil degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies at Oxford University and to study East-West cultural relations. In doing so, he may gain insights from a fourth area of interest he pursued while at Princeton: music. Shaitelman is a violist with the Princeton University Orchestra and was classical music director at WPRB-FM.

Beyond his study at Oxford, Shaitelman is considering a career in foreign relations. He spent a summer working at the US Department of State working on international energy policy; he plans to spend next summer addressing similar issues for the Central Intelligence Agency. "It was a tremendous challenge, and I really enjoyed it," he said of his work in Washington.

The Sachs Scholarship, which funds two years of graduate study in an area "likely to benefit the public," was created in memory of Daniel Sachs '60, a Rhodes Scholar and accomplished athlete who died of cancer at age 28. The scholarship fund was founded by friends of Sachs and is administered by former recipients.

Dale Fellow

Even as a senior, Lilith Wood wonders whether she chose the right major. Although she has been fascinated by her work in ecology and evolutionary biology, she sometimes wonders what it would have been like to focus on, say, art history or psychology. All her diverse interests, Wood says, feed into her central passion, which is writing.

She has written articles for the Nassau Weekly, Vigil, Princeton Journal of Foreign Affairs and Princeton Alumni Weekly. She was prose editor of Vent literary magazine and managing editor of the Princeton Journal of Foreign Affairs.

In most of that writing and coursework, Wood says she has drawn on her experience growing up in the small fishing town of Petersburg, Alaska. Her senior thesis, for example, "A Natural History of Peat," explores the ecosystem of the peat bogs that surround Petersburg.

For her Dale Fellowship, Wood proposed traveling the coasts of the United States talking to women who make a living fishing, and weaving their stories into a book. The central figure is to be a family friend, an 80-year-old woman who was a successful commercial fisherman in Alaska.

"I grew up playing on fish cannery equipment, so it's kind of in my blood," Wood explains. While at Princeton, Wood spent her summers in Alaska working at fishing operations and canneries. Her resume lists tasks ranging from gutting, heading and shipping fish to spying on other canneries' price lists.

"My book," Wood wrote in her proposal, "will be a piece of creative nonfiction. It will be the story of an Alaskan kid who travels the coastline of America in the year 2000, to talk with the women who harvest the oceans."

The Dale Fellowship was established in 1991 as a grant for sophomores to pursue summer projects that would offer them an opportunity for personal growth. Martin Dale expanded the fellowship in 1997 by creating a $20,000 grant that allows one student each year to pursue an independent project for a year following graduation. Candidates are measured by the potential impact their project could have on their own futures or on the future of American society or the international community.