Author Archives: Claire van Stolk

What a scholarship means to me

I decided to look at The Bobby Jones Scholarship for this post. I only heard about it towards the end of last semester, when two mutual friends received the scholarship. When I found out, I was excited for them but very, very confused. Who is this Bobby Jones anyway and what does this scholarship even do?

I learned that the scholarship was created to honor Bobby Jones, a famous world-renowned golfer and Emory alum who was revered by his peers. The school awards the scholarship to four seniors or Emory graduate students who best represent Emory University abroad at The University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland. This scholarship grants one year of study at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland, including tuition as well as a stipend. The program looks for applicants with “the qualities required to fulfill this ambassadorship… academic excellence and exemplary character, integrity, and citizenship”.

Besides the standard application form, transcript, and resume, The Bobby Jones Scholarship requires you to have three recommendation letters, and two essays: a Personal Statement and a St. Andrew’s Program Proposal.

As a sophomore in the college, I must wait till my senior year to even apply. Even so, I can still prepare for it. As an Emory student, I am granted many opportunities to communicate who I am as a person and why I should receive this (or any) scholarship.

Who am I then?

A shot from my summer job’s photoshoot.

I am a logophile, an Emory student, a space nerd, a Delta Phi Epsilon sister, an activist. I contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman says. I love Emory and the people who are a part of this wonderful community. I am lucky to be here, and I would be honored to represent our community at The University of St. Andrew’s.

I dream of becoming a forensic linguist. I think in the study of language – how, what, and why we do what we do. I analyze language whenever I read a book, watch a movie, eavesdrop on a conversation. I am an American history nerd and my love for language encouraged me to pour over the Constitution, old court cases. Language is one of the last ways we can legally discriminate against. I want to use the power of language to change that. Linguistics affects all fields – medicine, law, business, arts, STEM, teaching. Language connects all of us. It connected me to people and ideas I could have never thought possible.

Me after my first time voting in college

My close friends from Connecticut at my goodbye party

I left my home unexpectedly during my freshman year of high school to live with my aunt and uncle in Connecticut. I felt out of place and scared at first but with resilience and sheer tenacity, I became a member of this new community and forged friendships that I have long maintained, even after returning to my home and heading off to Emory.

During my freshman year at Emory, I gave a TED Talk about my experience growing up LGBTQ and the death of my father when I was eight years old and how the search to know who my father was, which led me to finally accept myself. I owe Emory for giving me the platform to share my story.

My freshman year RHA holding the trophy we did not actually win

At the University of St. Andrew’s, I would get to immerse myself in Scottish and British culture, as well as pursue my academic interests. This would be an opportunity for me to learn more about the English language and where it started as well as how I can use language to help others. That is what I would want from the Bobby Jones Scholarship

A Chicken Named Courgette


Imagine the smell of chocolate and coffee wafting through the cobblestone streets with people laughing and talking in some language you’ve had 10 years of experience, but never like this. The orange glow of street lamps give the space a cozy vibe and makes you fully aware of the fact that you’re in the dark in foreign place. Yet you strangely feel comfortable. This was my experience in Paris with my AP french class. 

The eight of us students have been together since the fourth grade, taking French and swapping sarcastic jokes amongst ourselves for 6 years. Every year at my high school, the AP French class traveled to Paris for spring break. I saved up for this trip since the fourth grade, as soon as I knew it was possible for me to go. I helped plan the trip with my friends and my beloved French teacher, who was born and raised in Paris. 

When we got there, we attempted to speak French all the time (we weren’t as successful as we hoped but we tried). Everything we did we did as a group. We made meals together in the kitchens of our hotel rooms  right in Saint-Germain. We walked through the streets and people watched. We visited the classic stops on any Paris trip, like Notre Dame or the Louvre as well as hidden away parks, small churches, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. We visited a Parisian high school on our first day and attended class as well as explored the campus. I held full length conversations in French, something that concerned me due to the fact I did not have a lot of experience speaking outside of school. I liked getting to know the students and what their lives were like. 

One of the most bizarre locations we visited was the Catacombs.My friends and I had to practically beg to get our teacher to take us there and we fortunately convinced her to take us.  I wandered where Robbespierre is buried and millions of others. Even through the cramped walkways and damp musty air, I tread along the old paths, enamoured by the craziness of it all. Underground and surrounded by bones did creep me out a little at first but after awhile, I grew more comfortable and could enjoy reading the Latin and French stone signs adorning the walls, barely separated from the bones themselves. 

Towards the end of our trip we hiked our way over to Le Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre.  We walked past several art vendors and small shops. At the end of the evening, I decided to stop into a small ceramic store. A blue and orange ceramic chicken caught my eye. I had to purchase this incredible clay fowl. I named her “courgette”.It seemed fitting. I carefully wrapped her in my coat and placed her on my hotel nightstand for the rest of our time there. 

Besides the cultural exposure, I gained some skills and experiences that will influence the rest of my life. My years of planning and dedication to this trip allowed me the opportunity to create budget and look ahead instead of just living moment by moment. I also got the chance to become closer with my classmates and my teachers. I spent three hours in the park with one of my best friends and it was absolutely incredible. Exploring the park with her was a highlight of my trip and a special memory I will cherish forever. I know that I will be back to France again. When is the real question. But I have many other places to check out, too. 

When I packed for college a little over a year ago, I rummaged through my possessions trying to decide what was most important for me to bring to school (besides the essentials, of course). I looked at my dresser and saw Courgette and knew what to do. Whenever I had a rough day during my first year, I just touched my ceramic chicken and remembered the hard work and the wonderful experiences that lead me to Emory. 

Salut Mes Amis/Hallo Vrienden

My name is Claire van Stolk and I am a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. I plan on majoring in Linguistics with a possible double major/minor in Physics with Astronomy or French. I come to this cohort with 10+ years of learning French and some very rudimentary Dutch.  I am avid reader who loves American history and knows plenty of strange U.S. President facts. I enjoy expressing myself through art and my writing. I have a passion for learning languages, and like my ideas and beliefs about the world to be challenged. 

Why Language?

“Liberal Arts” has been thrown around a lot in the college world but not a lot of people understand its meaning. How did liberal arts become so popular? Why is it liberal and why is it art? And where the heck does foreign languages fit in the picture? The Liberal Arts are supposed to teach its pupils “those universal principles which are the condition of the possibility of the existence of anything and everything” (wikipedia). Liberal Arts is actually short for the seven liberal arts which is broken up into two groups: trivium and quadrivium. Grammar, rhetoric, and logic comprise the trivium portion and arithmetic, music, astronomy, and geometry comprise quadrivium. Trivium is the first step in the process and once you’ve completed quadrivium, you’ve learned the foundation of philosophy. In classical Greece, Liberal Arts were seen as “essential” to the Greeks for a person to be a well-rounded responsible citizen. A Liberal Arts education’s purpose is to teach you to think. A valuable skill that will take you farther and enhance your life more than what a job gives you.

Me, an intellectual, completely a qualified scholar on Liberal Arts

The liberal in Liberal Arts education has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with the freedom of ideas, of thinking that our education affords us. You gain an independence of sorts, an independence to look at the world with whole new perspectives.
At this point, you’re probably wondering: where’s she going with this? I thought this was supposed to be about language is an important part of Liberal Arts education. She’s barely mentioned it!” My apologizes dear reader, I promise I’m getting to the point soon. I want to draw your attention to the trivium of Liberal Arts – rhetoric, logic, grammar. These subjects are the basis of language 

 Have you ever traveled anywhere? Seen a movie?  Read a book? Talked with someone? Maybe even just walked around campus.  If you’ve done any of the above, you in some way, shape or form have interacted with a foreign language. Language permeates human existence and you’d have to live in a whole in the ground all alone to escape it.  The English language loves to take words from other languages and them to our vocabulary. You get to meet and learn from a variety of fascinating people and enjoy a vast range of cultures. 

Sometimes we forget that an important part of Liberal arts is right in the name “arts”. Language is an art – think language arts in school, English and foreign language courses. These build up your rhetorical abilities, introduce you to various cultures and a communication system that can hardwire your brain differently than your first language. Language is essential to this idea of freedom of thought that is so inherent to our Liberal Arts education. It’s a guiding force. How would we share ideas with others if it wasn’t for language? A person in America can take scientific research from India and gather new discoveries just by making the effort to understand the language it was recorded in. Likewise, an English first language speaker can read a book in Spanish and gain an understanding of a Mexican immigrant’s life. Language is an expression of joy, sadness, grief, anger, confusion, hope, longing, nostalgia, and creativity. Foreign Language is a necessity for college students on a Liberal arts campus because how else would these ideas be transferable to the world and how would our minds be able to change like they’re supposed here during our college experience? To be a citizen of the world, a human being, we must communicate with each other. It is a fundamental aspect of humanity; language. Being able to understand – even a little bit – of foreign languages opens up doors to a world of possibilitiesDon’t you want to discover something new, something that may just change your life? Learn a foreign language. Trust me, it’s worth it 

Still from my French 203 Final Project Film – we are in a “Parisian café” and the waiter took away our fake paper cigarettes

The aftermath of our paper cigarettes being stolen