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Independent Research

Evans Scholars engage in independent research projects to satisfy a curiosity, delve deeply into a specific topic (often as a precursor to their senior thesis) or as a tie-in to career exploration. The experience can be a deeply satisfying one.

Eva McKend '11 — Black Women and Self-Image

Eva began the project A Campaign for Me to elevate black women out of a painful dark and into a place of love, visibility and beauty. "From the time she is born, the black woman is taught to hate how she looks — society tells her she must strive for Eurocentric attributes. While some black women lead lives unaffected by such abasement, many black women become plagued by the notion that what is white is what is beautiful. This campaign will work to aid the internalization of self-hatred within the African American community as well as influence outside races, particularly the dominant culture about the wide spectrum of black female beauty." Eva's campaign includes extensive research on the aesthetic divisions and deep-seated self-esteem issues within the black community, the collection of testimony from black women of all ages, and advocacy, which currently takes the form of a blog.

"Coming from a private independent school after thirteen years and now attending a predominantly white collegiate institution, I have experienced coming of age as a black female in predominantly white environments. Cultural strength and strong familial support are not enough. It is an unrealistic approach to create spaces of celebration solely within our own communities. By passing out fliers that read 'have you told a black woman she is beautiful today' with images of black women that aren't usually seen, the campaign will move forward the ongoing discussion, entertain the idea of our beauty and inspire other races to think about black women of all complexions, all hair textures and varying bone structures as beautiful. This movement will work to educate the dominant culture about the immeasurable beauty amongst black women."

Sarah Noble '10 – Midwifery in Mexico

"During the spring of my junior year I designed a research and study abroad experience, with the help of several professors at Swarthmore, that focused on natural healing in Mexico — specifically, traditional midwifery. I spent the first two months in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where I interned at a homeopathic healing center and shadowed a professional midwife. The second part of my journey took me to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. There, I lived with a group of Dominican sisters that worked intimately with the Zapatista movement. It was through them that a door was opened to me into communities, livelihoods, and philosophies that were rich, troubled, and awe-inspiring. I learned a small part of what it meant to be Zapatista, poor, and indigenous. During this time I interviewed and shadowed several traditional midwives in these communities. The information I gathered from them served as the backbone of my senior thesis, entitled: La partera of the Highlands of Chiapas: Examining her roles and ritual within biomedical, ethnomedical and Zapatista. My travels to Mexico and experiences over those five and a half months had a profound impact on my work here at Swarthmore as well as on myself."