A vast majority of students welcomed the chance to pursue academic interests outside their usual coursework during Oberlin's first winter term in January 1969. In all, 1,900 Conservatory and College students took part in an array of individual and group-study projects, including fencing, modern dance, yoga, and a meditation workshop conducted by two visiting monks. More than 250 students volunteered in schools and hospitals, law and architecture offices, and as research assistants to consumer activist Ralph Nader.
Today, winter term is among the deciding factors used by prospective students in choosing Oberlin. Students are required to complete three projects before graduating, which this year included photojournalism studies in Ireland, volunteering for Howard Dean's presidential campaign, following the path of Jack the Ripper in London, and living in a Japanese monastery. Some projects took the form of internships; this year, 60 Oberlin alumni offered such positions at their places of employment.
Senior Christopher Macklin, a triple major from Albuquerque, N.M., is a member of an elite group of students awarded one of the highest accolades a U.S. undergraduate can earn–Great Britain's Marshall Scholarship.
After graduating this May with majors in neuroscience, psychology, and biology, Macklin will study at University College in London, exploring how a person's experiences–and the resulting memories–changes the brain at the cellular and behavioral level. He is one of 17 students pursuing triple majors at Oberlin and one of three Oberlin students to win a Marshall Scholarship since 1990. He is also a 2003 Goldwater Scholar and Wilkins Scholar, a 2000-2004 John Frederick Oberlin Scholar and Robert C. Byrd Scholar, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Macklin credits "a deep awe of the capacities of the human brain" as a driv-ing force of his academic pursuits. As a research assistant to Associate Professor of Neuroscience Lynne Bianchi, he's studied the possible growth factors released by the inner ear during embryonic development. During a stint in a neuroscience lab at the University of New Mexico last summer, he tracked cellular changes that occur in Down's Syndrome and schizophrenia. And, in true Oberlin fashion, he's discovered a love for music; Macklin is a founding member of an early-music, student vocal quintet called Uncloistered.
Won through a rigorous national competition, the Marshall Scholarship supports American students who have demonstrated aca- demic excellence and leadership potential. This year more than 1,000 applicants vied for 44 scholarships–worth approximately $60,000 each–financed by the British government.
"I never dreamed my graduate school search would end in such an exciting way," Macklin says. "I feel lucky that I'll get to study in a place so well suited to both my academic and aesthetic personality."
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