William Beacom ’15 and Brett Diehl ’15 have been named Sachs Scholars, the University announced Thursday.
The Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship is an award given to seniors who are considering careers in public service. Recipients study at Worcester College at the University of Oxford to pursue a specific degree program. The Global Scholarship in particular supports an independent project at an institution abroad.
Beacom, a concentrator in the Wilson School from Calgary, Alberta, has received the Sachs Global Scholarship. After attending the Middlebury Language School to study Russian, he will spend a year in five Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia — studying the way in which China has influenced authoritarian regimes there. He will be looking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a political, economic and military organization founded in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Beacom explained that he first received exposure to Asian politics when he received a scholarship to study at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong in high school, where he began taking Chinese. His focus on Central Asia, he said, came from a paper he wrote for a Chinese class, which made him realize that connotations of key terms in the English translations of official declarations differed from those of the Chinese versions. He also noted that he spent a month in Central Asia during summer 2014.
“I realized how difficult it was to do research in that part of the world, and I realized I needed more time,” he said.
Another strong influence, he said, is his position as a research assistant in the EUROFORT project, a partnership between the University and the Berlin School of Social Sciences at Humboldt, for which he conducted economic research in Southeast Europe. This internship, he said, allowed him to learn more about how economic integration can happen and the general problems associated with it.
“The European Union is often seen as a template for regional organization,” he said, “and some of that knowledge I brought to my understanding of the Shanghai Cooperation.”
Beacom said he plans to join the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development after finishing his year abroad, noting that he might either start working immediately after finishing or go to graduate school to obtain a degree in international relations.
Diehl, a history concentrator from Charlottesville, Va., will be going to the University of Oxford for two years of graduate studies. He intends to obtain a one-year master’s degree in economic and social history, followed by a one-year master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice.
Diehl explained that one major influence on his desire to study social and economic history was his participation in the Bridge Year Program, through which he spent a year in Peru. He explained that this year abroad exposed him to the inequality and social injustice problems present in Latin America. Noting that a lot of economic and social history is in fact rooted in Britain, he said he plans to learn more about British and Western European history and politics while incorporating perspectives from the Americas into his studies.
His interest in criminology and criminal justice, he said, comes from his participation in criminal justice and incarceration reform on campus. He has provided tutoring to prison inmates through the Petey Greene program and is the president of Students for Prison Education and Reform.
Diehl said he hopes to return to the United States after his time at Worcester College to attend law school and become a public defender. He noted that he wants to attend a law school with many social justice clinics, saying that he will use what he sees there to try to address the problems in the criminal justice system.
“In the long term, I hope to bridge the gap between practice and theory by continuing to work as an attorney, while also engaging in academic policy debates about how to create a more just nation and world,” Diehl said.