Presidential Fellows

Presidential Fellows: The Stories

Here’s what Washington College students have to say about being Presidential Fellows.

Shane Benz ’16

Majors Economics and Political Science


“This program has been invaluable through the early connections it has made for me as a freshman and sophomore. I am proud to be a Presidential Fellow, and I know that my future prospects would be quite different without having that special distinction during my first two years of college.” 

Emily Summers ’16

Majors Business Management and Economics

“Aside from providing me with the scholarships that made it possible for me to attend Washington College, I am still close with a core group of friends that I made Freshman year while living in housing specific to Presidential Fellows. From the start living with those students inspired me to pursue my economic and career goals and got me involved with the Career Center’s services early on. I’ve also truly enjoyed the field trips and events that are offered to Presidential Fellows. I really believe that being a part of this program encouraged me to start off on the right foot Freshman year, and that momentum carried me forward.”

Evan Leary ’15

Major Economics, Minor Political Science

“The Presidential Fellows program enabled me to develop a strong network of students, faculty, and industry professionals from day one at Washington College. Participating in the housing program that placed Presidential Fellows in the same hall during the first year was probably one of my best decisions; some of the people I lived with in Kent became my closest friends, with whom I’m still in contact after graduation (and after moving thousands of miles away). Because of the nature of the selection process for Fellows, we are all from different fields of study, which always opens the door for stimulating conversations and gives us the opportunity to broaden our horizons in subjects that we might not be otherwise familiar. Now that we’ve graduated and are working, or studying towards postgraduate degrees, the Fellows has transformed into an invaluable professional network and will continue to prove beneficial.”

Caitlyn Riehl ’13

Major Biology Premed, Minor Chemistry

(As of January 2013, Caitlyn had interviewed at four medical programs and was deciding between Jefferson and Penn State.)

The Presidential Fellows program “was a huge help for me. I met a lot of people who were biology majors and in the same classes I’m still in, and that was nice because they were people I had common interests with, could study with, and go to classes with. That was the way it helped me the most.” Immediately paired up with Dr. Kathleen Verville, biology professor and chair of the Premedical Committee, Caitlyn jumped in with both feet. “They were very straightforward about the hard work it was going to be, but they helped fit everything well into my schedule so I could get things like organic chemistry out of the way early on. If I hadn’t had that I don’t think I would have been able to apply for medical school this year. I would have had to take an extra year off to in order to finish my classes in time to apply.”

Eshan Patel ’13

Majors Biology and Psychology Premed, Phi Beta Kappa

(Eshan completed an internship studying drug resistance at the Pediatric Oncology Education program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. After graduation, he will begin a post-baccalaureate NIH Intramural Research Training Fellowship studying molecular-based international HIV epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health.)

“The Presidential Fellows program allowed me to be in a community where I was with other students who had the same interests. Within the program there are subdivisions where they have all of the premed students together, so we shared the same advisor, we had the same peer mentor, we did a lot of activities together, and some of my best friends now are Presidential Fellows. I loved finding my best friends as soon as I came to Washington College because being premed is not an easy route—you’re going to go through a lot of difficult decisions about your future that can really influence what you do. It was just nice to know that I had people with similar interests helping me. We actually support each other through classes; if someone needs help in one subject we’re there the whole entire night until they grasp it.”

Ryan Bankert ’13

Majors Business Management and Spanish, Minor Economics, Phi Beta Kappa

(In January 2013, Ryan landed a job with Stanley Black & Decker’s Leadership Program, Finance sector.)

“It’s an opportunity out of the classroom to extend your learning experience. One of the first events I had as a Presidential Fellow was eating dinner at a little picnic with the president of the college at the time, President Tipson. And I remember thinking to myself, what other college am I going to go to where I’m eating dinner with the President of the College in the first week? And I’m talking to him, and he’s talking about what the school’s going to see in the next couple of years. The next semester, President Reiss got elected and I got to go to dinner with him, and I met him before a lot of the other students did. These opportunities opened up. I was instantly introduced to faculty; I was talking to faculty I hadn’t had a class with yet, but I would meet them down the line.”

Jasmine Bibbs ’13

Major Psychology, Minor Sociology, Phi Beta Kappa

(In her senior year Jasmine interned at Kent County Behavioral Health center where she shadowed a registered nurse and a licensed clinical social worker.)

“I really appreciate the program. It definitely introduced me to a lot of faculty. I was able to meet wonderful students that I’m still good friends with and can still go to, whether it be for academics or just fun. It gave me that opportunity to mesh with people right away, people who had common interests with me. We were kind of favored by our professors and that’s really helpful as a freshman because you know somebody is believing in you, counting on you, and wants you to do the best and will provide you with the opportunities to make sure that you achieve success.” Jasmine enjoyed being asked, as a Presidential Fellow, to speak to incoming freshmen: “I feel like we really make an impact with our experiences and talking to them. I feel like we really make a difference.”

Andrea Clarke ’14

Majors English and Drama, Minor French

(In August-September 2012, Andrea traveled to Cameroon where she developed a theater program that helped empower young women.)

“The Presidential Fellows was great because I would go to these meetings and I would know that everyone there was of my mentality. It’s helpful just to walk into a room and know that everyone has a goal as I do, and to know that everyone is supportive of these goals, and I can talk freely without being self-conscious or judging. We’re all cheerleaders because we’re all going in a certain direction, and it’s great to have really enlightening and stimulating conversations about aspirations, goals. And the talks that you’re invited to, the dinners, just having that outlet was so different from the other outlets they offered. It was refreshing. It was as if the school was nodding to us, and you’re seen, and here are some ways to help you continue this standard you’re on. I would really encourage people to take advantage of it.” 

Samantha Gross ’14

Majors English and Spanish, Minor Business Management, Concentration East Asian and European Studies

(In the 2012 fall semester Samantha studied in Madrid, Spain, where she also tutored students in English.)

“They put the Presidential Fellows in peer mentor groups together, and that’s how I met my first group of friends. And we’re still friends. We knew we were all smart, but we all knew there was a balance we needed to have. We were all driven to do well, but it was a really cool environment and a total change from how my high school was where everyone was kind of cutthroat. You could hang out with them and you could talk about things like, ‘Did you read the romantic poetry we had to read today, and what do you think of Wordsworth?’ But you could also talk about the silly TV shows you watched too.”

Parker McIntosh ’13

Major Biology, Minor Chemistry, Phi Beta Kappa


“There’s a picture that I still have; we had a lunch at the pavilion with the Presidential Fellows. It’s from freshman year, and it’s my group of friends, still. There are four or five biology majors and some business majors, I still hang out with them. It’s great because a couple of them that I’ve been in class with, we have competitions to see who’s going to get the better grades and that sort of thing. It motivates you to study harder. And it’s people that want to be there to learn, and want to do well and go on to med school or law school or whatever. This is a cool environment, as opposed to a class or two where a teacher asks a question and no one answers, which I don’t really like. You’re here to learn, to take advantage of everything.”