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Wofford names 20th Presidential International Scholar

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Thomas Adam Pierce, a Wofford College rising senior from Spartanburg, S.C., has been named the 20th Presidential International Scholar, the college’s unique scholarship that sends one student to developing countries for an academic year.

Pierce’s selection was made by Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap and announced at today’s (May 4) Spring Honors Convocation.

Pierce, the son of Mickey and Nancy Pierce of Spartanburg, is a graduate of Spartanburg High School. He is a dean’s list student, a Charles E. Daniel Scholar and a member of the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity. He also is a member of the Wofford College Honor Council and Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

“The Presidential International Scholar is more than a bright, energetic, deserving student,” Dunlap says. “He or she must be someone with the will and ability to transcend the ordinary, to pursue a challenging project, and to produce a significant result. In addition, he or she must be intrepid, adaptable and resilient. Perhaps Indiana Jones might qualify for that portion of the task, but the Presidential Scholar must also be someone who is likely to benefit humankind.

“Thomas is too modest to be comfortable with the comparison,” Dunlap continues, “but let me add that he comes about as close to these impossible criteria as anyone could.”

Pierce, an English and history major, will develop the plan and itinerary for his independent project over the next few months, with the guidance of a faculty advisor; he will leave on his travels in the fall.

Pierce has a great interest in music and performance. He is involved in the Wofford College Theatre Workshop and is a member of Alpha Psi Omega, the college’s drama fraternity. He performs with several Wofford groups, including Wofford Singers, Men’s a Cappella Group and the Show Choir. He also plays the mandolin and writes music for a folk-rock band, Five & Dime, which plays in the Spartanburg area regularly. They independently produced an album in the summer of 2003 that sold nearly 1,000 copies.

As a preceptor for the “Nature and Culture of Water” learning community at Wofford, Pierce provided teaching assistance for Professors Ellen Goldey and John Lane.

He studied abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa in the spring of 2003, volunteering while there at a center for abandoned children in the Langa Township. During the January 2004 Interim, Pierce interned with RESULTS, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., that campaigns to create the political will to end world hunger and poverty. In the 2003 Interim, he and another student participated in an independent study of the Florida Everglades, paddling the waterways for nearly two weeks; they are in the process of making a documentary of the trip, titled “Hog Key.”

The Presidential International Scholar is chosen personally each year by Wofford’s president as “the singular student best fitted to benefit humankind.” An anonymous donor funds the scholarship. The scholar spends his or her senior year visiting developing countries around the world and conducting research on an independent study project, returning for a fifth year to complete regular coursework and sharing what was learned during the travels.

During the Spring Honors Convocation, returning scholar Allyn Steele of Cleveland, N.C., was welcomed home. He traveled throughout developing countries studying water resource management and the various conflicts that can arise out of such a resource, looking at major hydroelectric dam projects, irrigation works, privatization efforts and trans-boundary water management. His goal was to explore how those issues affect local populations.