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Home » Discover Rackham » A Very Barbour Summer

It was an extremely empowering summer in our department at the Rackham Graduate School, and we’d like to thank all of you for contributing to it.

Our team grew by 50% for 10 weeks as we added two U-M students to our roster, both focusing on different aspects of the Barbour Scholar program as we prepare for the centennial events that will transpire in 2017.

Ella Webb, a junior studying Public Policy, interned with our office through the Development Summer Intern Program, a comprehensive summer designed to provide classroom training on development fields and on the job experience. Ella was selected to work with Rackham on the Barbour Scholar Centennial. Ella’s focus was to help aggregate information on Barbour Scholars over the years and be in touch with many who responded to last year’s alumnae survey. From that information, she created a host committee of dedicated Scholars who were interested in providing feedback on events and activities. Ella shares, “I am so grateful I had the opportunity to spend my summer working with such an amazing program. The Barbour Scholars are an incredibly accomplished group of women, and have contributed to a legacy of excellence at the University of Michigan and around the world. It was a privilege to meet and talk to current scholars and alumnae this summer, and I hope many more will learn about the inspiring story of the Barbour Scholarship as it reaches its 100th year.”

Our other team member, Christina LaRose, is a Ph.D. Candidate in English and Women’s Studies who worked as a Public Humanities Fellow through a program funded by the Mellon Foundation to provide career pathways for doctoral students in the humanities. Christina spent her summer researching both historical and contemporary Barbour alumnae, interviewing them, and writing their stories. She also undertook extensive archival research at the Bentley Historical Library on campus to unearth rich details in the history of the program.


During the course of her research, Christina met a graduate student from Yale who was interested in the Barbour Scholar archives as well, and our department is now collaborating with that student to provide materials for her dissertation chapter on the involvement of former Barbour Scholars within anti-colonial movements throughout Asia.

Christina says, “Researching the Barbour Scholars Program and alumnae was a fascinating experience. I learned so much about the history of the program and about the extraordinary lives and contributions of these gifted women. I hope that the alumni profiles I produced will create a culture of engagement and giving to support the Barbour Scholars Program.” As we discussed these projects over the summer, we repeatedly found ourselves in awe over the women involved in this prestigious program. Women like Yi-fang Wu, class of 1928, who unbound her feet before entering college in China and completing a Ph.D. in Biology. Women like Kameyo Sadakata, the first Barbour Scholar, who earned her M.D. degree in 1924 and worked in one of the foremost medical centers in Asia where she became an internationally recognized authority in her field. Women like Ming-chen Wang (1938) who has been called by many in China “The Chinese Madame Curie” due to her extraordinary contributions to modern physics. Women like you.

Please check our website for more stories of these incredible women. As with any living history, we would like them to grow. If you have information, memories, bios or photos you would like to share about a Barbour Scholar, please e-mail them to us at [email protected].

This summer has brought a group of women closer together as we unearthed stories and rich details that could easily have been lost or forgotten in a small box in U-M’s archives. Thank you, Barbour Scholars, for inspiring us and being a part of a meaningful chapter in the history of the University of Michigan.