After graduation, Neuroscience concentrator Nellie Ide (‘22) will spend a year learning kung fu in Kathmandu, Nepal while working on public service projects with the “Kung Fu Nuns,” thanks to the Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Travel Fellowship.
Ide says she is both honored and thrilled to receive the fellowship. News of the award caught her off guard. “I received the congratulatory email while I was on a training trip in Vermont with the ski team,” she recalls. “Right when I got the email I think I screamed “OH MY GOD” and then couldn’t say a word for the next few minutes, so my teammate thought something terrible had happened! I then started to worry that it was fake and made my teammate read the entire email to assure me that it was, in fact, real. I am very grateful for the support of my teammates in these moments!”
The Michael C. Rockefeller Fellowship provides funding for Harvard graduates to spend a year immersing themselves in another culture and exploring ways to participate in communities. “The Rockefeller is one of the most prestigious and challenging fellowships that Harvard awards,”[said] Neuroscience Concentration Adviser Ryan Draft. ”It requires students to throw themselves into entirely new environments and situations, where they must experience the world differently, think on their feet, operate entirely independently, and often pursue impossible goals. The bolder and more demanding the plan, the better!”
“Nellie is adventurous as a scholar, athlete, and traveler,” Draft adds. “She is a perfect fit for this radical year long opportunity. We are proud of her accomplishments and her vision, and I expect this is going to be one of the most unforgettable and meaningful years of her life.”
Ide was drawn to the Kung Fu Nuns, in part because athleticism has always been an integral part of her identity. At Harvard, she is a varsity member of the alpine ski team. “As I looked toward my graduation in the spring and my ‘retirement’ from ski racing, I realized that I was terrified to lose this part of my identity. Kung fu approaches athletics from a much more holistic perspective, and in this upcoming year I hope to learn how to strengthen my physical, mental, and spiritual well-being in a way that I can maintain for the rest of my life. I am particularly excited to spend time with the Kung Fu Nuns, who use kung fu to not only empower themselves, but also their community.”
The nuns’ public service projects include annual “Eco-Pad Yatras,” where they travel the Himalayas on foot, cleaning up bits of plastic garbage and educating local communities on green practices. Members of the group advocate loudly for gender equality by speaking out against human trafficking and teaching self-defense classes to local women.
Ide is not yet sure what she will do following her fellowship year but says she may go into a field that ties into her secondary in Global Health and Health Policy, working on either public health or the health effects of climate change.
“I am extremely grateful to the Neuro and MCB community,” she says. “This concentration allowed me to dive deep into fascinating areas of the brain and help me answer questions that I didn’t even know how to ask. I have learned so much through interactions with my professors, TFs, and fellow students and I will cherish these lessons for the rest of my life. I would especially like to thank my advisor Ryan Draft for his consistent support and wise advice throughout the years.”
Congratulations to Nellie Ide!