Scholarly Trio

June 1, 2007
Making the world a better place: scholars Levin, Cunningham, and Forwand, from left

Making the world a better place: scholars Levin, Cunningham, and Forwand, from left
Les Todd, Chris Hildreth, Megan Morr

Three Duke students—two undergraduates and a graduate student—have been awarded prestigious national scholarships.

Brandon Levin, a senior from Toledo, Ohio, majoring in mathematics, was selected as one of twelve Churchill Scholars. The Churchill Scholarship Program enables outstanding American students to conduct graduate studies in engineering, mathematics, and the natural and physical sciences at the University of Cambridge's Churchill College.

While at Duke, Levin and two fellow students formed one of only eleven teams in the world to receive an "outstanding" designation in the 2006 Mathematical Contest in Modeling, a grueling ninety-six-hour event during which students must race the clock to solve a problem. His group's challenge was to devise a model outlining the most efficient way for a farmer to irrigate a field using a designated list of equipment.

Levin plans to continue developing his longtime interest in number theory and earn the equivalent of a master's degree at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, located near Churchill College, before returning to the U.S. to earn a doctorate and join a university faculty.

Junior Andy Cunningham, who helped found an all-girls boarding school in Kenya, has been awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Truman Scholars are chosen based on their academic success, leadership potential, and commitment to a career in public service. They receive $30,000 for graduate study, priority admission, and supplemental financial aid to top graduate programs, as well as leadership training and career counseling.

Cunningham, who is pursuing a double major in international comparative studies and Chinese, has long been active in public service around the world. Working with biology professor Sherryl Broverman and others, he co-founded WISER, the Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research, the first all-girls boarding school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya, which aims to provide students a safe and effective education so they may attend college.

He led a major fundraising campaign in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that raised $125,000 for students and their families in New Orleans, worked with physically and mentally handicapped children in Jamaica, and taught street children in Calcutta, India, with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity.

Cunningham plans to defer graduate school for a year and invest his energy in WISER. After a year in Kenya, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in international education-policy development.

Elizabeth Forwand, a Nicholas School graduate student whose goal is to work with communities to help them better manage forests, has been awarded a Luce scholarship. The Luce Scholars Program provides stipends and internships for fifteen young Americans to live and work in Asia each year.
After graduating in May with master's degrees in environmental management and in forestry, Forwand says she will travel to Southeast Asia to work with "local citizens, governments, businesses, and environmental groups to help them manage forests for multiple benefits such as clean water, food production, and flood protection, as well as products like timber or botanicals that come from forest plants."