The Oak and Ivy Award is given to the student in the graduating class who is outstanding in scholarship, contributions to community, and leadership. This year the award went to two students: Meghan Kelly and Ben TerMaat.
Meghan Kelly has shown a deep commitment to community service and has held a number of leadership positions at the College. During her time at Swarthmore, Meghan served as a Career Peer Advisor, Green Advisor, and Resident Assistant. She was a dedicated member of the Campus Climate Study Committee and was very involved in the work of the Intercultural Center. She served on the Praxis Fellows Team as Social Justice Program Coordinator, working with students, faculty, and staff to create programs that further intergroup dialogue and coalition building. Meghan was also a member of the track team and was twice named to the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll. Other honors included the Newman Civic Fellowship Award “in recognition of her passion for promoting peace and equality,” and securing a Mellon grant along with Professor Edwin Mayorga to present “Poetry in Context.”
A major in sociology & anthropology and educational studies, with a minor in peace and conflict studies, Meghan graduated with High Honors. In the fall, she will enter the Harvard Graduate School of Education to pursue an Ed.M. in international education policy.
A major in political science with minors in philosophy and history, Ben TerMaat graduated with High Honors. Ben performed at the highest levels academically while being fully engaged in campus activities and local and national politics.
At Swarthmore, Ben served as a Student Academic Mentor, was president of the College Democrats, and was a member of the Swarthmore Queer Union. He co-founded Swarthmore’s chapter of the American Enterprise Institute on Campus to enrich campus conversations and open students to more fully engaging opposing points of view.
Throughout his time at Swarthmore, Ben worked on a number of local and national campaigns. He worked in various capacities for Leanne Krueger-Braneky’s campaigns for Pennsylvania State Representative. In 2014, he served as her field organizer and finance assistant; in 2015, he worked as deputy field director and volunteer coordinator; and in 2016, he was her political and field director. In 2016, he simultaneously conducted ground work for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Ben also served as a legislative intern to U.S. Senator Bob Casey (PA).
With double majors in mathematics and music, Josh graduated with Highest Honors.
In mathematics, Josh was a student researcher at Swarthmore College, SUNY-Potsdam, and the University of Colorado Boulder. He studied abroad with the prestigious “Budapest Semester in Mathematics” program.
In music, Josh used his expertise in mathematics to help his peers better grasp the underlying concepts of an upper level music theory seminar. He won the 2018 Concerto Competition as a pianist performing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. Throughout his time on campus, he volunteered to perform in multiple senior recitals, playing the harpsichord, piano, and oboe; he was also a regular accompanist for the Chorus and Garnet Singers.
Josh recently won a National Science Foundation fellowship to pursue graduate studies in mathematics at the University of Chicago. This is an extremely competitive grant rarely given to entering graduate students.
Chung Yuen Brandon Yeung came to Swarthmore from Hong Kong with an interest in science and quickly distinguished himself as a top student in all his science and engineering courses. During two summers working as a research assistant in Professor Everbach’s ultrasonics lab, Brandon became an expert on the confocal convolution microscope, learned to make blood clots using purified fibrinogen and thrombin, and employed the confocal to make 3D images and print them in plastic using a 3D printer. From this work, he performed an analysis that he presented at an international acoustics conference on the mechanical properties of blood clots, and modeled how microscopic bubbles, driven to oscillate by ultrasonic waves, could break up the clot in a technique known as sonothrombolysis.
In addition to this experimental, computational, and analytical work, Brandon partnered with a classmate in designing the mechanical systems of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that they took to the Shell EcoMarathon competition in Sonoma, California. Brandon, a physics minor, will be attending the Ph.D. program in aerospace engineering at Stanford University in the fall.
Yosuke Higashi came to Swarthmore from Japan and is double-majoring in engineering and computer science. During the summer after his junior year, Yosuke engaged in research with Professors Allan Moser and Michael Piovoso on the identification of dynamic systems in high noise environments using wavelet modulation functions. For a paper he wrote on this work, Yosuke received the 2017 Delaware Valley Engineers Week College Student Paper Award. For his senior design project, Yosuke was part of a three-person team that built and demonstrated a self-driving electric go-kart.
His work was so impressive that Google hired him to work in a group of Ph.D.s devoted to the development of a self-driving car. When asked why he did not go straight to graduate school, Yosuke indicated that most of the ground-breaking work on self-driving cars would be completed by the time he graduated and he did not want to miss out on the fun.