Every year, the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia awards five scholarships to students from participating Pennsylvania institutions, including Ursinus, allowing students to study in Scotland for a year. This year’s Ursinus winner is AJ Belville ’21, who received the Mutch Scholarship, and who will spend his junior year at the University of Glasgow.
St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia was organized and founded in 1747 by a group of Pennsylvanian men of Scottish ancestry. Its goal, as stated on the St. Andrew’s Society webpage, is to allow “[scholars] to truly experience and appreciate the culture, history, and character of Scotland; to fully immerse themselves in the academic and social life.” This is what Belville plans to do when he heads to Scotland next year.
The road to Scotland wasn’t easy. Belville began the internal application the day that Assistant Dean Kelly Sorensen sent out an announcement about it, and submitted it the following day. About two months later, he received an exciting email from Sorensen, informing him that he would be Ursinus’ candidate for the Mutch Scholarship.
However, the interview process—held at the Union League of Philadelphia—was stressful and somewhat “harrowing.” “It was long,” Belville said. “I was with seven other qualified candidates and one of them flew in from Florida just for the interview that day. [The interviewers] stuck us in a room and pulled us out individually to interview us. They also put us in a panel in front of old men, where we were then berated with questions. It was crazy.” While he was at dinner in Wismer that night, Belville received the good news that he had been accepted as the scholar- ship winner.
Belville’s Mutch Scholarship is not tied to his biochemistry and molecular biology major; Belville is also an artist. He released his first album “For My Future Wife” in the summer of 2017, and during his trip to Scot- land he is excited to immerse himself in the Glasgow music scene.
“I’ve been listening to a lot of Scottish folk music lately,” Belville said, “and it’s been driving a lot of my writing for my next album.” —AJ Belville Class of 2021
“I’ve been listening to a lot of Scottish folk music lately,” Belville said, “and it’s been driving a lot of my writing for my next album.” This is why St. Andrew’s society wants him to explore music during his time in Scotland. At Ursinus, when Belville writes music, he goes out to the football field, parking lot, or any quiet place late at night so he can peacefully write alone.
Besides Scotland and music, Belville also looks forward to traveling to California for Summer Fellows. Biology professor Dr. Rebecca Lyczak and Belville will be researching genetics. He hopes to learn the tools necessary to become an effective re- searcher. After Ursinus, Belville hopes to specialize in virology: “I’ve known that I wanted to do stuff with viruses since I was young. And the cool thing about Glasgow is that they have a dedicated virology department. Going there, hopefully, I’ll be able to get involved, and speak to some people who are important in the field that I want to get into. So that’s a win for me.”
His trips will hold new experiences for Belville in very different spheres. First, he will explore genetics, then he will travel to Scotland to immerse himself in music. He is beyond excited for both opportunities.