2014 – 2015 Brace Fellows Selected Four Students to Each Explore Religion, Culture, Race and Chess

Next year’s Brace Student Fellows, Avery Jonas ’16, Kaylee Llewellyn ’15, Ellie Simon ’15 and Cem Vardar ’15 will explore the topics of religion, culture, race and chess.

The Brace Center opened in 1996 and has been accepting Student Fellows since its founding. Brace Student Fellows were announced on Thursday, May 8 by the interim Brace Center Directors, Tony Rotundo and Tracy Ainsworth, Instructors in History.

As the Brace Student Fellows for the 2013-2014 year, they will spend the summer researching and writing a paper on a topic of their choosing. They will present their findings to the Andover community next year.

**Avery Jonas ’16:**

Jonas will investigate the topic of how black masculinity is portrayed in the media. Inspired by the recent races discussions on campus, he plans to demonstrate the ways in which race and gender intersect, examining the privileges and disadvantages of being a black male.

“I wanted to talk about the reasons why some stereotypes [associated with being a black male] are reflected in society. I’ve noticed that they’re coming from the media. That’s why I wanted to research about the media, because it has a big impact on how black males actually think of themselves and others, and how the world views them,” said Jonas.

Working with Emma Staffaroni, Instructor in English, Jonas will focus his research on reflections on black masculinity, including the book “Black Looks” by bell hooks.

**Cem Vardar ’15:**

Vardar’s project will examine at the culture in eastern Turkey that encourages child marriages. Of Turkish descent himself, he wishes to raise awareness of the relatively unreported and undocumented forced marriages occurring in the country, caused by lack of governmental control.

“When you look at the general situation, you can pretty much say that women are treated as second class citizens by their male counterparts… 25 percent of marriages in eastern Turkey are underage, and 83 percent of the women involved in these marriages are illiterate. Women lag behind in terms of receiving education and social services. They don’t have any say in terms of whether they want to marry these people or not, and some are just married off in return for money,” said Vardar.

In his research, he plans to work with non-governmental organizations trying to aid the situation, interview journalists who have worked in the field and travel to eastern Turkey to get first-hand accounts from people living in these cultures. His advisor will be Patricia Har, Instructor in English.

**Kaylee Llewellyn ’15:**

Llewellyn will look at women’s rights in the Mormon Church, focusing on the aspect of polygamy in the Fundamentalist Mormon Church. Being raised in a family with connections to the Mormon Church, Llewellyn is interested in examining the differences in how women are viewed in today’s religious society.

“The women that are within these relationships are abused, physically, verbally and mentally. By the definition of polygamy, it can’t be an equal relationship between a man and a woman, because there are more women than men. I want to investigate more thoroughly what is going on, to investigate the personal accounts of women that have escaped and see the impact of the religion and how the religion allows this kind of abuse and mistreatment to go on,” said Llewellyn.

Her advisor, Noah Rachlin, Instructor in History, will guide her as she reads books and marriage laws, interviews people who have escaped from these systems and talks to younger girls in the Mormon church.

**Ellie Simon ’15:**

Simon’s work will bring light to how women are viewed in the game of chess. A chess player herself, she has noticed social factors that discourage girls from playing chess, along with differences in the playing styles between the two genders.

“I’ve been playing chess my entire life, and I’m really passionate about it, but the gender disparity is ridiculous even though it’s a completely intellectual game… I’ve gotten microaggressions from people at tournaments, from my coaches, people that didn’t support me that were on my team, and people who I was competing against. There’s a lot of pressure to quit the game as a girl,” said Simon.

She will work with her faculty advisor, Christine Marshall-Walker, Instructor in Biology, to survey girls and boys at chess camps and tournaments and interview coaches and parents.