Meet the 2019 Bezos Scholars!

Contributed by
VALERIE QUIRK
2011 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories

Scholar Spotlight: 2011 Scholar Valerie Quirk

What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically?
In a pretty non-traditional course, I just got back from a year abroad living out of a self-converted 1999 Dodge Ram Van with my partner, driving from the US all the way to South America (we even got to visit Antarctica!) There were many nights in the hospital (with among other things, a Rabies scare - yes, you read that correctly), we broke down in the Atacama Desert, and dealt with the loneliness of transience. But I was also taken into peoples’ homes, watched new life emerge among millions of penguins, and cried tears of joy at the top of a 20,000 ft peak. It was an incredible experience that has left me uplifted, grounded, grateful, and more curious than ever. 

From the beginning, we also committed to make this trip bigger than just us - to that end, The Great Untold EDU was born. The program had students in the US virtually following us on our journey through interactive lessons, activities, and live video calls based on where we were and what we learned. You can check out more about the program on our website and also see some photos on our Instagram! Now that I am back living in Boulder, Colorado, I am focusing on growing the EDU program (expanding the curriculum and making plans/seeking funding for a Part Two). I’m also working on building a personal safety device company for women and helping out on the TED-Ed team again. 

Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar cohort, and if so — how?
Through social media, yes! I love seeing all of the incredible things everyone is charging towards. I also had the chance to see a number of scholars during my time in New York/on TED Fellow calls! 

Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
Letters to a Young Poet is the book I come back to all the time - especially in intense periods of my life or in times of transition. Something different sticks out to me every time. 

As for music, a huge staple album of my road trip was Gloria Duplex by Henry Jamison. If you have a road trip coming up (or if you don’t), I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Anything else you want to share with the BSP community?
If anyone has any questions about going “off-track,” van conversions, the Great Untold EDU, trekking/traveling in South America etc. please reach out! And be on the lookout for an upcoming BSP Blogpost on my trip and The Great Untold EDU. Lastly, a quote from Letters to a Young Poet: 

“We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it. This is in the end the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to face the strangest, most unusual, most inexplicable experiences that can meet us.”

Contributed by
VALERIE QUIRK
2011 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories

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