Named for our founding father, the George Washington Medal is Washington College’s highest honor Washington College bestows on its graduating seniors. Here’s a look at two recent winners:
The 2012 Winner
Military service and a sense of duty are just two things Jim Schelberg ’12 has in common with the College’s namesake. Schelberg served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Corps gunner. He returned Stateside with an unshakeable belief in education as a way to lift up individual people—and nations.
As junior, the philosophy and humanities major recruited several Washington College professors to teach in a summer program he devised for inmates at Jessup Correctional Institution. Through the Partners in Philosophy program, Schelberg gave the inmates an opportunity to exercise their minds and the chance to be taken seriously as thinking adults.
“My sense was that everybody, whether they’re a convicted criminal or not, everybody has the potential for philosophical thought,” said Schelberg, who led another summer course on Philosophy of Religion at Jessup after graduation. Since then, he has been traveling, writing, and applying to Ph.D. programs in philosophy.
The 2011 Winner
Rachel Field, the 2011 George Washington Medal winner, believes that people can be happier and healthier when we understand our living connection with the planet. An environmental studies major with minors in philosophy and English, Field says she appreciated the breadth of a liberal arts education that allowed her to examine the world through multiple lenses.
“I had the opportunity to throw myself into the hard sciences while also pursuing studies in philosophy and religion,” she says. “I learned to explain our world scientifically and also to evaluate it from a philosophical standpoint.”
Field wants to continue that dialogue in environmental ethics through a dual-degree program at Yale University that combines graduate studies in the School of Divinity and in the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She has been accepted to the School of Divinity and is waiting to hear about her Forestry application.
“Part of what I see is that environmentalists have put a wall up between the environment and everything else,” says Field, who is the program coordinator at the College’s Center for Environmnent & Society. “I want to help tear down that wall. We’re a part of a living system. I want to help people examine who we are, what we’re doing here, and how we can interact with everything else that exists.”