2023-2024 Gunn Scholars

6 mins read

By Mairin Hoffman, Megan Sladish, Sloane Walsh ’25

Each year, six students are chosen to participate in the Gunn Scholar program, an endowed program that offers selected students opportunities to pursue a year-long research project of their choosing in the Paula and George Krimsky Archives and Special Collections. Students apply to the program at the end of their junior year and begin the class their senior year. During senior year, scholars finalize the scope of their thesis, develop a written proposal and work diligently within the school’s archives, exploring the mission and vision of Frederick W. Gunn through primary-source research and place-based learning. Each and every scholar has unearthed something new, either in our own archives or in others, sometimes answering questions we have not even asked, debunking myths, clarifying events, and contributing to The Frederick Gunn School’s ongoing story. The Gunn Scholars for the 2023-2024 school year are TJ Addonizio, Anna Damosy, Emma Eschweiler, Sonia Romanenko, Bridie Strowe, and Erin Whitney (Credit to the Frederick Gunn School website).

Why did you want to be a Gunn Scholar?

TJ Addonizio: “I wanted to be a Gunn Scholar because it provides an opportunity to do research within the archives in order to learn more about the history of the school. Also, it gives me a chance to research something I am truly interested in.”

Anna Dámosy:  “I really wanted to become a Gunn Scholar so that I could learn more about our history here at our school. I have always been really excited to go and check out the archives, so this was a great opportunity! I also wanted to learn more about research processes.”

Emma Eschweiler: “I wanted to be a Gunn Scholar because ever since I started as a Freshman I was always interested in pretty much any history of the school. Old buildings, alumni stories, traditions, old sports teams, etc. Not sure why I had this interest, but I do know that I love the school and was really intrigued with the Gunn Scholar process of research in the archives and being able to study almost anything you want.”

Sonia Romaneko: “The opportunity to contribute to the international students’ community is my motivation to be a Gunn Scholar.”

Bridie Strowe: “I remember Mr. Surjan, the old librarian, told me about the class my sophomore year and it sounded really interesting. I’m the kind of person who loves old dusty books and limelights, so I knew I wanted to apply after I spoke to Mrs. Conlan about it earlier this year. I’ve always been curious about the topic I chose as well, so I wanted to be able to dive into that more deeply.”

Erin Whitney: “ I’ve really wanted to be a Gunn Scholar ever since I heard about the program because it’s such a unique opportunity to research something that hasn’t ever been researched before. I’m also excited to be able to pace my own work in a course that’s more like an independent study than a class.”

What do you anticipate your topic will be?

TJ Addonizio: “My topic will incorporate information about the history of community integration throughout the Frederick Gunn School. I will talk about different ways the school has been a part of local communities such as the town of Washington and how that integration has changed over time.”

Anna Dámosy: “I think my topic is going to be surrounding our admission policies, and financial aid strategies both past and present. I might place a special emphasis on international student admissions as well.”

Emma Eschweiler: “I anticipate my topic will be something involved with the history of architecture at Gunn. Mrs. Conlan and I spoke, and she told me there is a lot of material from the 1920s and the construction of the quad and the buildings around it, so I most likely will primarily study that time period. I am really looking forward to seeing old pictures, blue prints, and models of what the buildings used to look like at Gunn.”

Sonia Romanenko: “I will research how international students have contributed to the community and school’s development.”

Bridie Strowe: “I’m looking into the history of the Frederick Gunn School regarding activism and how institutionalizing different systems of beliefs can either do good for a community or harm it. I really want to look at the history of how Frederick Gunn’s beliefs encouraged and discouraged activism for different social movements that the school has seen and compare different events to demonstrate that end.”

Erin Whitney: “ I’m not sure yet what my topic is going to be, but I’m interested in maybe doing something related to the history of school traditions & events.”

How do you plan to educate the community?

TJ: Addonizio: “I plan on educating the community through events including the Rooted Research Conference held in the Spring term. I also will educate local community members on this topic by holding interviews in order to gather more information.”

Anna Dámosy: “Well, to educate the community I first need to learn myself. But after acquiring some of the knowledge I am hoping to gain, I would love to have conversations about the topic and eventually present at the research conference that we have at the end of the year.” 

Emma Eschweiler: “I like this last question a lot. Especially with the recent research conference we had, I have been thinking how I plan to present my topic in such a way that is educational but also not boring. As for leaving education for our community’s archives, I plan to stay diligent and dedicated to my research and hopefully end the course with a well done means of documenting my research. As for educating the community, perhaps through a presentation like the Gunn Scholars did this year, I would definitely avoid saying a lot of words and, instead, show a lot more pictures. I believe everyone in our community has to have some sort of interest in the history of Gunn, but it is when the history sounds too formal or like their actual history class where it becomes boring. When I present my topic, I plan to show as many visual representations of my research as possible, because I think in the end, that will be the most impactful and educational.”

Sonia Romanenko: “I think it will be useful for current and future foreign students because we can either bring back some traditions and events or create something new based on experience.”

Bridie Strowe: “To be honest, educating the community wasn’t something I really thought about when I was applying, I really just wanted to learn how to conduct research in the archives and investigate the history of a topic I’m passionate about. But I think this will ultimately end up showing the community the real stakes of creating a new institution and how your actions will influence that place hundreds of years after you’ve created it.”

Erin Whitney:  “I hope to reach out to our school’s alumni to learn more about their experiences, and I’m also looking forward to presenting at the Rooted Research Conference next year!”


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