TACOMA, Wash. –A young conservationist who wrestled with conflicting ethical arguments before coming down on the side of those who want to preserve nature and an aspiring engineer with a taste for marimba music have been awarded the prestigious Lillis Scholarship.
Bethany Llewellyn and Manya Mutschler-Aldine, both from Corvallis, Ore., will receive scholarships covering their tuition, fees, and room and board at University of Puget Sound for up to four years. The Lillis Scholarship, generously funded by a gift from Gwendolyn H. Lillis P’05 and Charles M. Lillis P’05 through The Lillis Foundation, is the national liberal arts college’s premier award for students who demonstrate exceptional promise in academics and scholarship.
Lillis Scholars thrive on learning and exploring ideas, and are chosen for their outstanding academic performance, intellectual independence, and drive to pursue excellence throughout their lives. Finalists were selected from a pool of 350 applicants, who were among the 6,000 students applying to enroll at Puget Sound for fall 2017.
Llewellyn and Mutschler-Aldine are members of Puget Sound’s Class of 2021 and part of a cohort of Lillis Scholars named since the program began making awards in 2008.
Bethany Llewellyn (Corvallis, Ore.)
After reading Philip Connors’ book Fire Season, Bethany Llewellyn began to see her lifelong love of natural places through a different lens. America’s wild landscapes, the Corvallis High School graduate realized, needed help.
The book introduced her to the classic land management conflict as portrayed by naturalist John Muir, who believed in leaving wilderness untouched, and forester Gifford Pinchot, who wanted stewardship of the land to ensure society could always enjoy its resources.
While interning for the Grand Canyon Trust, Llewellyn saw this struggle unfold between ranchers and activists. As she wrote in her Lillis essay: “Pinchot’s disciples tend to win in this country. The trees, after all, don’t vote, and people tend to stand for their best interests. That’s what decides it for me.” She went on, “I believe in people and our right to live on this planet and use its resources to put food in our bellies and roofs over our heads. But I believe every other living thing has that right too, and people have gotten a little out of hand.”
At Puget Sound Llewellyn will study biology and environmental science in the hope of pursuing a career to bring “a tiny bit more balance back” into the co-existence of nature and society. While at high school, Llewellyn juggled a rigorous schedule of Advanced Placement classes, playing flute in the band, and captaining the ultimate and cross-country teams. Making the most of her gap year, she spent the spring of this year in Peru, studying Spanish and experiencing the local culture.
Manya Mutschler-Aldine (Corvallis, Ore.)
“My life has been shaped by music,” Manya Mutschler-Aldine wrote in her Lillis essay. “My dad’s jazz, my mom’s folk and Latin—all that I loved, but none were really mine.” Then along came a Zimbabwean marimba band that practiced for its gigs across the street from her home.
Mutschler-Aldine was still young when she developed a zeal for marimba music. She held on to her devotion long after her peers had moved on, joining a marimba youth band and taking to the stage. Ever ready to explore, she also ventured into classical music, and at Corvallis High School became the Wind Ensemble’s clarinet section leader and a member of the Corvallis Youth Symphony.
A growing interest in social inequity drew Mutschler-Aldine to read Charles Dickens and to devour the political pages of newspapers. As her knowledge grew, so grew her desire to help change a system in which the poor and disadvantaged are held down—a plight, she wrote, sustained by “how our society is constructed, not something inherent.” That, she added, means it “can be changed.”
This year Mutschler-Aldine earned top marks in a curriculum of honors and Advanced Placement courses, while also volunteering for community service with the Key Club, Rotary Interact Club, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Mutschler-Aldine aims to study mathematics and physics at Puget Sound, with a view to becoming an engineer. However, she stresses, regardless of her career path, she intends to use her own privilege to combat the inequities that created it.
About the Lillis Scholar Program
The Lillis Scholar Program was established in 2007 through a generous gift made by The Lillis Foundation of Castle Rock, Colo., to recognize academic excellence and encourage intellectual independence. Gwen Lillis is chair of The Lillis Foundation; a member of University of Puget Sound’s board of trustees; and chair of the board of advisors at Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon. Charles Lillis is former chair and chief executive of MediaOne Group, founding partner of LoneTree Capital Management, and chair of the board of trustees at University of Oregon. The Lillises are the parents of Puget Sound alumna Jessica Baker Isaacs ’05. Each year two Lillis Scholars are selected from the incoming first-year class.
For information about eligibility for the Lillis Scholar Program, contact the Office of Admission at 253.879.3211 or visit pugetsound.edu/scholarships.
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