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Robert Parker '04 Awarded Bristol Fellowship

He'll Study the Practice of Shamanism

Posted April 23, 2004
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Robert Parker, a candidate for May graduation from Hamilton College, has been awarded the College's prestigious Bristol Fellowship.

The Bristol Fellowship was begun in 1996 as part of a gift to Hamilton College by William M. Bristol, Jr., (Class of 1917). The purpose of the fellowship is to perpetuate Mr. Bristol's spirit and share it with students of the college that was such an important part of his life. Created by his family, the fellowship is designed to encourage Hamilton students to experience the richness of the world by living outside the United States for one year and studying an area of great personal interest.

Parker's project is titled "Calling on the Witch Doctor: Shamanism and Curing Ceremonies."  He intends to study shamanism, "a technique of ecstasy, whereby the shaman can cure illness by traveling into the supernatural." Shamans possess an extensive knowledge of traditional medicines and cures, legends and lore of the culture and the composition of the mind. Parker will study the practice of shamanizing and curing ceremonies among three societies. He will explore how traditional practices can be applied to western treatment of patients and how indigenous communities view sickness. He will travel to the Yakutia region in Eastern Russia; the interior rainforests of Suriname in South America; and to modernized communities in Kelantan, Malaysia. Parker hopes to attend medical school after his year of study as a Bristol Fellow.

The Bristol Fellowship is intended to be highly personal and is open to all interested Hamilton seniors. Proposals are evaluated based on inquisitiveness, a spirit of adventure, depth of personal interest, and openness to other cultures. While not a requirement, proposals are also considered for their sense of family connection.

William Bristol served as a Hamilton trustee, president of the alumnae association, fundraiser and benefactor. He was one of six generations of Bristol family members to attend Hamilton, dating back to the chartering of the college in 1812. Mr. Bristol's great, great-grandfather became one of the college's first trustees after helping to found the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, which later became Hamilton College in 1793.

Parker, a chemistry major, has been elected to the Doers and Thinkers and Was Los honor societies at Hamilton; he received the Merck/AAAS research stipend and the President's Fund for Faculty Innovation research stipend; he had research published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and he presented at the American Chemical Society National convention.

Parker has been secretary/treasurer of Hamilton's Student Assembly since 2000, a tutor for the American Chemical Society and a tutor in the Drop Everything and Read program, Westmoreland School District. He is the son of Robert and Diane Parker of Turnpike Road in Northfield, N.H.

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