Signature Programs
Bowden Fellowships in the Humanities

Celebrating five years of Bowden fellows

Ransom Everglades celebrated five years of Dan Leslie Bowden Fellowships in the Humanities with a gallery night that showcased the Class of 2022 fellows’ projects and attracted dozens of members of the RE community. The February 7 evening event, which filled the Solomon Art Gallery with students, faculty, parents and alumni, illustrated the impact of the students’ fellowship work and the reach and growth of the program. The humanities fellowships have become a signature experiential-learning opportunity at Ransom Everglades since the first fellows set out with the school’s support in the summer of 2017.
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The nine current fellows – Anya Dua '22, Rebecca Gotterer '22, Lauren Heller '22, Alexa Hommen '22, Mark Mateo '22, Kira Oglesby '22, Maria Luiza Schuchovski '22, Kathleen Stanton-Sharpless '22 and Leah Thorpe '22 – shared presentations, took questions and displayed posters, photographs, videos, websites, podcasts and artwork that documented their summer projects, which took them to Israel, Brazil, The Bahamas and other locales.

On hand for the special evening were Thomas Bowden, the grandnephew of the late Dan Leslie Bowden, the legendary RE faculty member for whom the program is named; Jeffrey Miller ’79, the former Bowden student whose endowment gift created the program; Head of School Penny Townsend, Associate Head of School John A. King, Jr., who oversees the fellowship program; and other members of the administration.

“The Dan Bowden Fellows continue to impress each year,” Miller said. “Their passion, creativity and diverse array of topics continue to uphold Dan Bowden’s legacy. Through Dr. King’s mentorship, the program has evolved and surpassed all expectations. Thanks to all the fellows for the past five years. Dan Bowden is smiling upon all of you and his legacy will continue to shine bright for Ransom Everglades.”

Since the summer of 2017, 44 Bowden fellows have traveled across the nation and to India, China, Mexico, Scotland, France and other international destinations. Many have done research and carried out interviews, others have created art, some have performed. All have compiled and shared their findings with the RE community while exploring the topic: What makes us human?

Members of RE’s junior class are invited to apply each fall; the fellows are selected by a project review panel overseen by Dr. King. Students receive monetary stipends and faculty mentorship to carry out their humanities projects. 

The Class of 2022 fellows previously shared their summer work during an assembly for the upper school community on October 12, 2021.

“It is so rewarding to see the fellows fostering a lively discussion of the range and depth of the human condition with classmates, parents, teachers and other friends of the school,” Dr. King said. “I know that my friend Dan Bowden would have been right in his element at an event like this, and very gratified by the sincerity of the conversation about what makes us human."

Oglesby, who traveled to Milwaukee in June, studied The Great Migration and Effects on African Americans in the City of Milwaukee. In Spirit and Sound, Hommen studied the importance of music as a component of religious expression, examining how churches in Coconut Grove have used music to share and celebrate their faith over decades.

Hommen described the fellowship as “an incredible experience and opportunity” that has prepared her for future projects.

“This project taught me many things, including how to just jump into something, no matter how big it might seem,” Hommen said. “I also learned how to reach out to people, how to approach people … I never expected I’d gain these experiences and this insight from my project. I’d like to thank Dr. King for his unwavering support. He knows that this project is a learning experience for all the fellows, and he’s always there to help.”

Thorpe explored Coconut Grove as part of her project, Discovering Culture and Humanity through Architecture: the Impact of the Early Bahamian Settler. Heller, a nationally ranked jump-rope competitor, explored the foundations of the sport in the multi-cultural breakdance and double-dutch jump-rope communities that grew up in New York City around the turn of the century in BreakIn the Ropes.

As a result of her fellowship, she was invited to present her work at the opening conference of the Universal Hip Hip Museum in the Bronx in the coming weeks.

In his project Freedom as a Core Human Value, Mateo examined the trend toward anti-democratic forms of government in Poland and the United States in recent decades, questioning what would make people work against freedom and gravitate to authoritarianism. Stanton-Sharpless explored how theater is, was and will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Blackout. Gotterer’s project, Unity in the Face of a Divided Homeland, looked at the history of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; she traveled to Israel for in-person interviews and on-the-ground research in museums and through lectures.

Schuchovski traveled to Brazil to study The Green Exchange, an innovative recycling program started in 1981 in Curitiba, Brazil, that views waste as a resource and is considered a model of how to combine community and sustainability. Dua collected and analyzed extensive data sets exploring Gen Z’s Political, Social, and Cultural Values, observing that individual identity is a fusion of age, ethnicity, spirituality and other traits.

Since the endowment's creation, more than 100 donors have been inspired to contribute to the fund. When fully funded, the endowment will expand to support two full-time faculty members in the humanities and a future gathering area in a new humanities building. (For information about how you can support the endowment, contact Director of Advancement Melanie Hoffmann.)

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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.