Global travel leads to personal insights through Appel Fellowship

An Ath celebration on January 24th offered the latest Appel Fellows the opportunity to thank Joel Appel ’87 P’20, whose philanthropic support makes their discoveries possible.

An Ath celebration on January 24th offered the latest Appel Fellows the opportunity to thank Joel Appel ’87 P’20, whose philanthropic support makes their discoveries possible.

Photos by Anibal Ortiz

A panel of 2023 Appel Fellows offered advice for those considering the opportunity.

A panel of 2023 Appel Fellows offered advice for those considering the opportunity.

An appreciative Athenaeum audience gathered to hear colorful, true-life tales from Claremont McKenna College’s 2023 Appel Fellows, who traveled to locales including the Arctic Circle, Ghana, and Taiwan. Along the way, they chronicled their journeys through creative projects such as poetry, documentary films, and essays.

Entering its ninth year, the Appel Fellowship “provides first-year students with funding to support purposeful, independent experiences that culminate in a meaningful and substantial writing project.”

In return, the January 24th Ath celebration offered the latest writing fellows the opportunity to thank Joel Appel ’87 P’20, whose philanthropic support makes their discoveries possible. Since its launch in 2015, the Appel Fellowship has sent 135 CMCers to 22 states and 48 countries.

Rohaan Bhojwani ’26 shared about his project, which took him to the Arctic Circle.

Rohaan Bhojwani ’26 shared about his project, which took him to the Arctic Circle.

For Appel, who hosted a portion of the evening’s program, meeting the 2023 Appel Fellows and learning their stories was a “total blast.”

An entrepreneur who majored in Economics and History at CMC, Appel founded Orange Glo International and co-founded Launch Pad. He shared how a conversation with CMC President Hiram Chodosh led him to follow his dream of becoming involved with humanities and writing at the College.

“‘What if we sent students to have unique experiences and write about them?’” Appel recalled as President Chodosh’s suggestion. “I said, ‘Done.’ I didn’t even need to see the details. And it’s turned out to be wonderful.”

Appel then shared advice with prospective Appel Fellows: “You will spend much of your lives doing what you will be doing for your career. You are at a very cool, finite point in your life where you can actually have these experiences. Cherish it.”

Appel (center) hosted a portion of the evening’s program.

Joel Appel (center) hosted a portion of the evening’s program.

Henry Long ’25, a current Ath Fellow and 2022 Appel Fellow who traveled to the Tamil Nadu region of India for his project, introduced the program. He told the audience, “I can attest firsthand to how impactful the Appel Fellowship can be, implementing a love for writing and for traveling.”

The writing component “has been so important for Appel Fellows and is one of the reasons why the fellowship is often transformative,” said Chloe Martinez, associate director of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse (CWPD) and the Appel Fellowship’s faculty coordinator.

“It’s a chance to travel and do something cool, but you have to write at the same time,” she added. “And, that writing piece, that self-reflective moment that happens when you have to write through an experience, is a chance to try a different kind of writing. It can be magical.”

Rohaan Bhojwani, Sophia Castellanos, Luc Fabing, and Leticia Murer de Souza—all from the Class of 2026—shared snapshots of their projects, with additional 2023 Appel Fellows offering insights later in the program.

The map presented to Appel as a gift represents the locations where a Fellow has traveled to and written about since 2015.

The map presented to Appel as a gift represents the locations where a Fellow has traveled to and written about since 2015.

Next, with Appel moderating, a panel of 2023 fellows offered their own advice for those considering the special opportunity.

“Embrace spontaneity, and use your CMC network. In every city that I went to, I was surrounded by CMCers and unexpected events,” advised Tanveer Singh Chabba ’26, whose project delved into electronic dance music in England, Spain, and Germany. The fellowship, he added, is “also about learning how to travel on your own, learning how to sustain yourself on your own, learning how to propose a project, and learning how it follows through on something that you are passionate about.”

As the evening concluded, Megan Davidson, director of the CWPD, formally thanked Appel. “His generosity has taken CMCers to every corner of the globe,” Davidson said as she unveiled a framed map. “We wanted to present Joel with this gift to thank him. Each pin on this map represents a location where an Appel Fellow has traveled to and written about over the years. We look forward to sending Joel future pins that he can add to this list as this program continues to grow!”

See more images from the Appel Scholars Celebration here.

Anne Bergman

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