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2019: Gwyneth McLear '20 and Olivia D’Allessandro '20

Gwyneth McLear '20 and Olivia D’Allessandro '20 took their passion for marine biology and the social power of art and teamed up to make a dent in the microplastics problem that we have in our oceans. They collected important microplastics data that the scientific community currently lacks, specifically point-source ocean pollution. They hope to publish those results online and then create a piece of engineered art educating the populous on their discoveries. 

"Everyone can do a little good in the world – this is the perfect way to take our first steps."

2019: Max Colognesi '21

Max Colognesi '21 discovered a passion for woodworking over the last few years while working as a counselor in the Beaver Summer Camp. Recently, in an Upper School meeting, you heard about his partnership with Second Step, a charitable program that helps provide and furnish living spaces for women and children who have left abusive living situations. Max built original pieces of furniture and donated many of them to folks in the Second Step program.

"I would like to receive requests from the families and make furniture for their current location as well as for them to use in their next housing arrangement."

2018: Duncan Jurayj '20, Tiny House

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Duncan built a 7 by 12-foot tiny house, with a kitchen, small living space, bathroom, and lofted bed. He designed the structure in an online program which he taught himself how to use - and made the home just small enough to sit on a trailer. Duncan is using the tiny house to spread the minimalist message to as many people as possible. He plans on donating the finished home.

Read more about Duncan and his project in the Boston Globe and Boston Magazine.

“With less things, you have more freedom and you have more time and maybe money to put into experiences. I think the tiny house is just an interesting way to practice that.”

            – Duncan Jurayj '20

2017: Craig Ackerman '18, Functional Exoskeleton

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Craig created a light functional exoskeleton using arduinos, metal alloy muscles wires, and various electrical sensors. Craig’s goal for this exoskeleton was to provide the general public with a mechanical suit anyone and everyone could use, something that may not look much different from regular clothing - but would assist people in moving limbs with greater force and speed.

      – Craig Ackerman '18

"I walked into this project without previous knowledge on how to do most of what I presented to you, but I had a passion for it and I wanted to learn more about it."

2017: Ian Emery '19, Rowing Vessel 

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Ian built a professional-grade rowing vessel similar to the Oxford Shells. He learned the skills of basic craftsmanship from his grandfather and uncle and used them to create his boat. 

“I believe that building something is about making elegant and functional pieces of art.”

            – Ian Emery '19

2016: Irene McLaughlin-Alves '17, Culture & Artistic Immersion in Oaxaca City, Mexico

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

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

            – Irene McLaughlin-Alves '17

2015: Gerlins Marcano, Arabic Immersion in Amman, Jordan

Gerlins Marcano spent six weeks in Amman Jordan, studying Arabic with students from all over the world. Back at Beaver, he created an installation in the Nancy Lincoln Gallery sharing his experiences. 

"Language builds bridges – it opens doors to other cultures and people's hearts. With this gallery, I hoped to recreate the disorientation of being abroad."

– Gerlins Marcano '16

2014: Matt Lapuck, Recording Studio & Music Video

Matt Lapuck pursued his musical passions by spending the summer creating a recording studio in his garage. Then, using his newly acquired equipment, he created a music video with his friends. 

"The grant was an amazing opportunity to do something I really enjoyed in a real-life setting, while being nurtured by people I look up to." 

– Matt Lapuck '16

2013: John Kalnins and Ben Hicks, A Swell Safari

John and Ben spent their summer traveling and surfing the globe. Using the grant, they documented their adventures in a movie and exhibit in the Nancy Lincoln Gallery.

"This whole experience has changed my life forever.” 

– John Kalnins '14, currently taking a gap year

    Ben Hicks '14, currently at Colorado College

2012: Desmond Mahoney, 9 Movies, 9 Genres, 9 Decades

From writing to acting to directing to editing, Desmond did a little bit of everything for his film, 9 Movies, 9 Genres, 9 Decades.

"The Alex Cohn Grant gave me the opportunity to explore my passion for filmmkaing and was an invaluable learning experience."

– Desmond Mahoney '13, currently at Emerson College

2011: Ben Logan, Apprenticeship with Shepard Fairey in Boston

Inspired by the street art, spent his summer restoring Shepard Fairey's murals around Boston and also created his own original mural in Cambridge.


"Being able to work for an international street artist, and create my own work, was a dream come true."

– Ben Logan '12, currently at USC

2010: Taylor Hayes, Fashions by Taylor Hayes

Interested in fashion since her childhood, Taylor used the grant to design, sew, and present her own fashion line.


"My project helped me confirm that fashion design was a field I wanted to work in and I believe the grant was a big part of helping me gain admission to prestigious art schools in New York City."

– Taylor Hayes '12, currently at Pratt Institute

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