Pitzer Spotlights

Casey Scieszka '06: Pitzer's First Fulbright to Mali
First to Beijing, then to Mali

Fulbright
Casey Scieszka
Casey Sciezka will be studying Islam in education in Mali

Casey Scieszka majored in Sociology at Pitzer and is now on her way to Mali to study the "Intersections of Education and Islam in Mali” as Pitzer’s first Fulbright to the country. But first, she will complete a six-month contract teaching English to elementary school children in Beijing.

In Mali, Scieszka will explore the different ways that Islam appears in the education of their youth by researching state-run schools, private schools, and road-side Koranic schools in urban and rural areas. She feels positive about growth in Mali due to their strong human rights record, stable multi-party democracy and people who care.

Scieszka’s professors, classmates and co-curricular activities at Pitzer were at the heart of her high level of satisfaction with her undergraduate experience. “One of the best parts of my academic experience at Pitzer has been the professors. I was in so many classes where I truly felt like the professor saw me as an intellectual equal. On top of that, I maintained relationships with some professors even long after our class was finished,” Scieszka said.

A favorite co-curricular activity of Scieszka’s was the Jumpstart Program at Pitzer because “It helped me realize just how interested in education I am, and above all, the kids were a riot,” she said.

Scieszka also studied abroad in Morocco where she learned Arabic and used her French speaking skills. While studying abroad in Morocco, Scieszka spent a month traveling to various cities talking to people about unemployment, people's journeys of faith in Islam, and the changing (and unchanging) role of women in the house. Then she wrote a compilation of short stories titled "Fact Through Fiction" to communicate information about contemporary Moroccan life through fiction.

Additionally, Scieszka wrote an honors thesis titled "Secular Foundations of Sacred Worlds: the Sociology of Elementary Religious Education.” She went to Quranic school, a Hebrew school, and a Catholic school for 1st and 2nd graders to observe how those institutions were passing on the religion. There, she interviewed the teachers about their classrooms and then college students who had attended similar schools to get an idea of how that school experience fit into the development of their faith. “It was a seriously rewarding way to end my academic experience at Pitzer,” Scieszka said.

Scieszka’s chose Pitzer she knew it was a place where critical thinking and creativity was truly appreciated: “I knew I wouldn't come out after four years knowing only how to regurgitate what professors had fed me. I was also really eager to be with other people who were looking for all that. I got what I was looking for.” She continues, “This past year I had a bunch of different friends from home come out to California at different times and every single one of them LOVED Pitzer. Some threatened never to leave.” She concludes by saying that although many of her Pitzer classmates are scattered to different continents right now, she carries them in her heart wherever she goes.

—Susan Andrews