The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program has selected Westmont alumna Olivia Stowell ’19 as one of 10 Lilly Graduate Fellows nationwide. The prestigious fellowship supports outstanding students who want to explore the connections within Christianity, higher education, and the vocation of the teacher-scholar as they pursue graduate degrees in humanities and the arts.
Stowell, who earned a Master of Arts from Villanova, enters the doctoral program in Communication and Media at the University of Michigan this fall.
“I’m really looking forward to the cross-disciplinary intellectual community that the Lilly Graduate Fellowship cohort will provide,” Stowell says. “The chance to consistently think with and learn from other graduate students from other institutions and disciplines is such a unique opportunity that I feel very lucky to participate in. Everyone else in the cohort is so brilliant, and we each have our own areas of expertise and interest, but we share commitments to the generative possibilities of teaching and learning. I really look forward to the chance to get to learn and grow alongside them through the beginning of my doctoral studies and beyond.”
The fellowship is part of the Lilly Fellows Program that began with a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
“Over the next few years, I plan to continue my research in the intersections of television, race and ethnicity, temporality, and embodiment, particularly in relation to food and cooking as represented on TV,” she says. “I’m also hoping to do some more public writing.”
Lilly Graduate Fellows receive three annual stipends of $3,000 ($9,000 total) to use at their discretion. During the three-year program, fellows will meet regularly with a mentor, attend four conferences and participate in a long-distance colloquium.
At Villanova, Stowell earned the Margaret Powell Esmonde Memorial Award, which recognizes the best graduate essay, for her piece, “Possible, Not Promised: Towards a Diagnostic-Dialogic Mode of Antiracist Method.”
Stowell, who graduated from Westmont with a double major in English and theater arts, created a powerful stage adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” with six actors. Her English major honors project explored the way animators encode evil as “other” in terms of race, gender, sexuality or attractiveness. She also organized campus-wide Fringe Festivals and participated in discussions about justice.
“My coursework at Westmont prepared me for my graduate studies, both at Villanova and at Michigan,” she says. “My time at Westmont not only allowed me to lay the groundwork for my future research but also connected me with amazing mentors who have continued to support me even after my graduation.”
Founded in 1991, the Lilly Fellows Program seeks to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of higher learning through four programmatic initiatives. First, it offers postdoctoral teaching fellowships at Valparaiso University for early career scholars who wish to prepare themselves for positions of teaching, scholarship, and leadership within church-related institutions. Second, it supports young men and women of exceptional academic talent who are exploring vocations in church-related higher education during their early years of graduate school in the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program. Third, it maintains a collaborative and ecumenical National Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities that sponsors a variety of activities designed to strengthen the mission of church-related institutions.