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– Irene McLaughlin-Alves

"The ability to pursue my passion by immersing myself in my culture, including theSpanish language, and by exploring my love of street art through the Alex Cohn Grant, would be a fortunate and unbelievable experience for me."

Culture & Artistic Immersion in Oaxaca City, Mexico


Below is the announcement Josh Rilla – faculty co-chair of the Alex Cohn Grant – made to students:


This year, 13 students applied for the Alex Cohn Grant, and the overwhelming response from the selection committee was that these proposals were incredibly professional and unusually varied in topic.


Let me give you a brief taste of some of the ideas submitted.


On the tech side, one duo pitched the idea of developing their own open-world, Sci-Fi video game, while another student envisioned developing a fashion app where the user could virtually clothe him/herself in new fashions to see how the outfits would look. There was also one student (in a proposal that I personally needed a dictionary for) who wanted to experiment with modern day exoskeletons using electromagnetic polymers and design a wearable suit that would help the person wearing it pick up heavy objects, run faster, etc.


In addition, the strong entrepreneurial spirit of Beaver shone through in many applications. Two students wanted to start their own food stand company and sell exciting products at school events, while a couple others aspired to become YouTube celebrities – one for video-gaming and tech advice, the other for sharing original recipes and designing her own cookbook. And yet another entrepreneur wanted to continue making a dent in the Energy Crisis by using the clean-energy company he is in the process of building to influence schools in the area – included Beaver – to switch to solar power.


We also heard from an avid fisherman hoping to craft and design his own rods while touring the eastern seaboard for the elusive striped bass; an adventurer wanting to travel to Budapest and Munich to photograph and interview refugees associated with the Syrian Refugee Crisis; and an aspiring sculptor who proposed to build a sculpture on-campus designed by the entire Beaver community – meaning even he could not tell you how the sculpture might look until the very last second of its construction.


The bottom line is the committee had a wealth of excellent ideas, and we couldn’t be more proud of the submissions we received.


In the end, the committee did indeed make a decision:


For those of you who don’t know her, junior Irene McLaughlin-Alves is a burgeoning artist, and she has proposed to study the ASARO Collective – a revolutionary Street Art collective that operates out of Oaxaca, Mexico. Famous for its printmaking and graffiti work plastered throughout the city, the group is focused on achieving revolutionary political change through art.


Irene will travel to Oaxaca for 10 days over Spring Break, contact ASARO, and study their methods. Then, she will return to Beaver and produce an ASARO-inspired mural regarding her experience and any revelations she may have come to related to her personal heritage connection to Oaxaca.   


Congratulations, Irene!

One last thing I would like to add: Irene applied for the Grant unsuccessfully her sophomore year. She re-crafted her proposal this year and tried again. That kind of persistence and willingness to redraft is what Grant applications are all about, and her diligence had a profound effect on the selection committee. So, those sophomores who applied this year, please consider applying again next year with your fabulous ideas. And freshmen? Begin thinking now about the wild dreams you may have that the Grant could help make a reality.

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