CATS Boston Scholars Program

This academic year, our Scholars have been on some extraordinary trips through the CATS Boston Scholars Program. Organized by David O’Donnell, who heads up the program, we are going to take a look at some of the opportunities they have enjoyed this year.

CATS Boston Scholars at Harvard

Seeing in Art and Medicine: A Conversation: A Harvard Medical School/Harvard Art Museum Panel Discussion

Eight CATS Boston Scholars travelled to the Harvard Art Museum to attend a panel discussion on Seeing in Art and Medicine featuring a Radiology professor and two founders of Harvard’s Medical Humanities program.

Our Scholars witnessed much discussion on the learning and practicing of medicine, and the value of humanities and art education in conjunction with a medical career. The message from Harvard Medical School is that courses in humanities and art education contribute to making better doctors.

Secret Code, Lost Language, Nonsense, or Hoax: The Voynich Manuscript’s Enduring Mysteries: A Medieval History lecture at Wellesley College

A number of our CATS Boston Scholars visited Wellesley College to attend a Medieval History lecture in Wellesley’s Newhouse Center for the Humanities. Led by Professor Lisa Fagin Davis, she entertained our students with her mastery of what is known about the Voynich Manuscript, “the world’s most mysterious manuscript.” Making the audience laugh with her account of the manuscript’s current popularity in pop culture, she also explained what is known and what remains a mystery about the manuscript.

One thing our students took away from the event is that learning with a top scholar can be fun and entertaining thanks to Professor Lisa Fagin Davis’ sense of humor.

CATS Boston Students at Wellesley College

Preventive Medicine: A Boston College Law School seminar

Five CATS Boston Scholars and faculty Ms. Hannah Hilliker and Mr. David O’Donnell travelled to Boston College Law School to hear Seton Hall University law professor Doron Dorfman lead a workshop on the legal aspects of Preventive Medicine. Professor Dorfman spoke in an engaging manner on his topic before then leading a workshop titled Penalizing Prevention: The Paradoxical Legal Treatment of Preventive Medicine.

In the resulting workshop, participants, including our CATS Boston Scholars, were examining whether people can insist on accommodations to aid a problem they have. A well-known example would be the American Disabilities Act (ADA), where public institutions must accommodate people in wheelchairs. But can the government insist that all private homes have such accommodations? Or if a lecturer has a compromised immune system, can he insist that students wear masks? It turns out that regulations related to masking are a hot legal topic in the United States and other countries.

Our students thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, finding it both engaging and challenging, and the chance to visit law professors and their students in a fairly informal setting. This kind of session goes a long way to helping our students open their eyes to career possibilities and that they could be lawyers.

CATS Boston Students Explore Worcester Hills

Visit to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Worcester Hills

Earlier in the year, four CATS Boston Scholars went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to attend an Admissions information session and tour the campus. WPI is known for its project-based curriculum, and internships. The tours were each led by a current student and included visiting academic, athletic, and other facilities. The leader of our tour was a second-year student from Panama, whose parents are from Italy, and he had a lot of enthusiasm for his life at WPI.

After lunch near campus in Worcester, our students, accompanied by Mr O’Donnell, drove 25 miles further west to hike in the Worcester hills. Our students really appreciated the opportunity to travel around New England, visit a college and explore nature.

The Interminable Cycles of Chernobyl’s Catastrophes: War, Accident, and War Again: A lecture at Boston College

Our CATS Boston Scholars enjoyed a lecture by Kate Brown, MIT’s top chair in history of science, on the Chernobyl catastrophe. Her book, Manual of Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics’ Circle Award.

Taking place at Boston College, students listed while Professor Brown told stories of her visits to Chernobyl, how the disaster became important to her as an environmental historian and communicated the survivors’ experiences to a rapt audience. One sign of Brown’s effect was that after the lecture, four of our students bought her book, eager to have a word with her at the book signing after the lecture.

Scholars watch Harvard football game against University of Pennsylvania

Mr. Jeremy Adams and Mr. David O’Donnell took CATS Boston Scholars to Harvard for the last home game of Harvard’s football season. It was bitterly cold that day but that did not detract from the excitement of the trip.

Students were rewarded by seeing Harvard win, 25-23 in triple-overtime. In the twilight after the game, it was also memorable to see the defeated Penn team, who had fought so hard, stand in ranks on the field and sing their college song with spirit.

Political Heaney: A lecturer on Nobel-prizewinning poet Seamus Heaney at Boston College

Scholars went to Boston College to hear Fintan O’Toole, a leading writer from Ireland and now a professor at Princeton University, speaking on the Nobel-prizewinning poet, Seamus Heaney. His bestselling book, We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, was one of the New York Times ten best books of 2022.

O’Toole talked about his own working-class background in Dublin. As poet Seamus Heaney’s official biographer, he discussed Heaney’s roots as an Irish Catholic in Northern Ireland, explaining that Heaney never endorsed violence during the 30 years of “The Troubles,” which ended in 1998. As O’Toole told it, Heaney consciously chose humanity over other interests.

For the our Scholars, it was an excellent opportunity to learn about Heaney, who taught for many years at Harvard, and to see the connections between literature, poetry, and politics.

The diversity of trips and excursions enjoyed by our CATS Boston Scholars makes the Scholars Program so unique. The trips are popular and rewarding excursions which offer incentives for students to broaden their horizons, experience American culture, visit places of interest, tour colleges and universities, and explore potential career paths.

As well as the trips above, Scholars also visited Brown University to explore the campus and the famous Rhode Island School of Design and Rockefeller Library, and they have attended a concert at Memorial Hall to hear the renowned Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra.

Find out what it means to be a CATS Boston Scholar.