Pictured are (from left) Alexandra Davis, Ian Guthoff, Dave Plastino and Matthew Roarty.

2013 Plastino Scholars

Annual dinner recognizes last year's Plastino Scholars, welcomes 2013 cohort

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9:22 a.m., May 17, 2013--The six University of Delaware undergraduates who traveled the world to pursue their passions as 2012 Plastino Scholars recounted their experiences at an annual celebration dinner that also welcomed the incoming 2013 cohort.

Their achievements were celebrated by proud family members, faculty mentors and the program’s benefactor, Dave Plastino.

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Established in 2007 by a generous gift from Plastino, a 1978 graduate of UD’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Plastino Scholars Program awards grants to undergraduates to support self-designated, off-campus projects of their passion.

These awards give students a chance to discover and follow their interests, Plastino has said. “It takes a self-motivated individual, but any undergraduate at UD has the opportunity to become a Plastino Scholar,” he added.

Dan Reyes, a 2012 Plastino Scholar, studied food system reform in the United States and abroad, with a particular interest in reaching low-income markets. “The Plastino Scholarship gave me the opportunity to not simply study the food system but to craft my own journey through it,” he said.

Reyes, who has gone on to create the Food Bank of Delaware’s Community Supported Agriculture program, added, “It lent me the freedom to pursue complete immersion in the experience – the only deliverable requested by Mr. Plastino is that you return with new perspectives, informed passion and a desire to share you experience with those around you. It was nothing less than the epitome of my undergraduate education.”

2013 Plastino Scholars

Alexandra Davis from Union, N.J., an international relations and public policy major with a minor in economics, will apply her education, research and interest in economic development to studying the “pop-up shop” movement in Delaware, which introduced its first pop-up in Wilmington last fall, and in South Africa, which has an estimated total jobless population of 40 percent. 

As a Plastino Scholar, Davis aims to form a relationship between a pop-up in South Africa and the Delaware Economic Development Office in hopes that the two agencies can find new ways to tackle the challenges of fueling local business and stimulating entrepreneurial growth. 

Ian Guthoff from Wappingers Falls, N.Y., a history and political science double major with a minor in economics, will travel to six national parks on the East Coast, creating individual projects at each, from invasive species removal in a park on Maine’s rocky coastline to trail repair and historic preservation in Florida’s Everglades National Park. 

His project, “A Modern Muir: Conserving America’s Parks,” will extend beyond service learning to include a self-composed book of photos, prose and poetry on these American landmarks.  

Matt Roarty from Newark, Del., an Honors Program student and political science major with history and philosophy minors who is a member of UD’s Rubber Chickens improvisation comedy troupe, will hone his skills in long-form improvisation through a five-week, summer-intensive course at Chicago’s iO Theatre, where he will perform on one of the most famous comedy stages and learn from some of the country’s most accomplished improvisational comedians.

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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