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Congratulations to Sofia Cymry Ayres-Aronson winner of the 2021 Roderick Boyd Porter Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to John Carroll students who demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the Humanities. Dayna Rakoczy (not pictured) receives the Runner-Up, and Julia Kashuba and Raymond Flannery receive Honorable Mention.

From your intriguing essays to your travel reflections, from your excellence in the classroom to your passion for and leadership in the Humanities, you model reflective, expressive, creative, and active engagement that other students can aspire to. I want to thank you for all you do to make John Carroll a place where we encounter, reflect on, create, and celebrate the Humanities. We are enormously proud and grateful for your contributions to this university.

- Dr. Philip Metres, Chair of the Porter Scholarship Committee
Sofia Cymry Ayres-Aronson

Sofia Cymry Ayres-Aronson is a rising senior at JCU majoring in English and early childhood education. Since her freshman year, Sofia has worked at the JCU Writing Center and volunteered at the CSSA with Carroll Reads and Youth for Justice. Sofia is involved in JCU’s STEM club and the Ohio Council for Teachers of Mathematics (OCCTM). She is the recipient of the Magis Scholarship, Terri Ann Goodman Memorial Award, Christopher Roark Memorial Award, and OCCTM Teaching Award.  After eight years of French and Latin education, she currently tutors middle school French and all high school subjects. Sofia is always involved in serving the local community by delivering food to homeless shelters, playing violin at hospitals, or knitting headbands for patients. During the pandemic, Sofia has been teaching herself Irish fiddle, building on seventeen years of classical violin training. She is currently thinking about writing a picture book to illustrate phonics concepts to young students and hoping to wrangle her good friend into being the illustrator. This summer, Sofia will be working with young creative writing students at Lake Erie Ink through JCU’s Summer in the City program. 

Americans will begin to weave our voices into a story encircling all people’s experiences, concerns, and hopes. Leaders and educators will play an important role in energizing and guiding this endeavor. Although we will not agree with everyone else’s opinions, greater visibility will increase our awareness and encourage the synthesis of knowledge from all areas. Our new story will be expansive, multifaceted, and infinite as our diversity and creativity become reflected in the threads that entwine our lives. By applying the critical thinking skills practiced in the humanities, there is hope for a less polarized world, one perhaps that learns to first ask how others’ experiences have contributed to their views, instead of solely seeing and seeking our own.

-Sofia Cymry Ayres-Aronson, Recipient of the 2021 Porter Scholarship in the Humanities
Julia Kashuba

Julia Kashuba is a rising senior at JCU studying Psychology and Creative Writing. Julia cultivated her passion for linguistics and other various arts through her Ukrainian upbringing and community. Throughout her life, she studied the artforms of traditional Ukrainian dance, ballet, painting, sculpting, and playing instruments like the clarinet and guitar. Julia works on campus as a consultant in the Writing Center and holds a Colleran-Weaver Research Fellowship. She is actively involved in Writers in Residence and the Young Writers Workshop. Julia intertwines creative writing and psychology through her research, which she plans to continue doing regardless of her future career. She is passionate about learning and plans to further her education by pursuing a PhD in either Psychology or Creative Writing.

Our Pangea of humanity has divided itself into continents, categories: male, female, black, white, believer, atheist, native, immigrant, democrat, republican. We have forgotten how to embrace these differences—how to venture the waters between these metaphorical continents. We have forgotten that despite our varying “continents,” they are all part of the same Earth. No matter our categories, our primary identifier is human . The fact that we share these innate divisive tendencies is precisely what unifies us as one cohesive species living on our one planet Earth.

-Julia Kashuba, Honorable Mention for the 2021 Porter Scholarship in the Humanities
Ray Flannery

Ray Flannery of Hinckley, Ohio is a junior at JCU with majors in Sociology and Spanish & Hispanic Studies, as well as minors in Population & Public Health and Leadership Development. He is a member of the Student Leadership Team at the Center for Service and Social Action and is actively involved in the Campus Ministry and Speech and Debate communities. On campus, he is an RA and a member of the Honors Program. After graduation, Ray hopes to further his studies of public health.

The Humanities directly allow each of us to become better humans by encouraging us to lend an ear to people telling their stories around the world, to help us understand that we are much more alike than different. In our globalized world, bridges can be formed between various people and groups by connecting narratives through the Humanities. We can avoid repeating past mistakes by building on the wealth of knowledge contained in the Humanities. Only by incorporating the Humanities can we become well-read and well-rounded people who are ready to exchange ideas.

-Ray Flannery, Honorable Mention for the 2021 Porter Scholarship in the Humanities