Fort Drum's Cultural Resources Manager and archeologist, Dr. Laurie Rush, is making history herself as the first Department of Defense employee to accept an 11-month fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, known widely as the "Rome Prize."
Established in 1894 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1905, the American Academy seeks to foster the pursuit of advanced research and independent study in the fine arts and humanities. Each year, through a national competition, the Rome Prize is awarded to approximately 30 individuals working in Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern, or Modern Italian Studies, and Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design, Historic Preservation and Conservation, Literature, Musical Composition, or Visual Art. Recipients of the Rome Prize Competition are provided with a fellowship that includes a stipend, a study or studio, and room and board for a period of 6 months to 2 years in Rome, Italy. During this time prize winners will work on individual projects in their field of study.
Rush accepted her fellowship at a reception in Manhattan April 15. Her focus during her time abroad will be working with greater international understanding of cultural property protection with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defense College and other concerned organizations. As a pioneer bridging the military and archeologist career fields, Rush works with leadership from both, foreign and domestic, to preserve Fort Drum cultural and religious sites, as well as those in harm's way due to conflict overseas. She is dedicated to balancing the responsibility of cultural stewardship with achieving military mission objectives.
"It's a balancing act that has so many advantages to help people from all backgrounds share a common vision" said Rush.
While working with the NATO Defense College, Rush will also share best practices from her work in increasing cultural sensitivity through educational outreach. She anticipates highlighting the success of creating realistic training areas at home for Soldiers during their pre-deployment training. These true-to-life sites help Soldiers foster respect for monuments, mosques and other religious sites. An additional recent achievement was the development of playing cards with pictures of items of cultural significance. The playing cards are recognized as ground-breaking in the effort to better acquaint Soldiers with south-west Asian artifacts.
However, while Rush will lean on her wealth of past experiences during her fellowship, she also looks forward to the opportunity to learn from the new.
"Working for the Army is challenging and rewarding and has offered me more opportunities than I could ever possibly have imagined. I look forward to working in Rome with all the incredibly talented artists and scholars on projects that are aimed at making the world a better place. I am already thinking of ways to tap into those joining me in Rome" said Rush.
Rush will begin her fellowship in September.
For more information about the American Academy in Rome go to www.aarome.org.
For more information or to set up an interview with Dr. Laurie Rush please contact Kae Young, Fort Drum Public Affairs, at 315-772-5463.