by Sarah McCarthy
During the first week of classes, 2005 graduate Bridget Kustin came back to Whitman to talk give a talk about her experience as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh. Her talk, entitled “Engaging Islamic Bangladesh: Development, Islam, and U.S. Diplomacy,” was scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 31.
The afternoon before her presentation, however, Bridget was struck by a car while crossing the street. She and history professor Elise Semerdjian were in a crosswalk on Boyer Avenue, just outside the Brew Pub. From the accident scene, Bridget was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital. Once initially stabilized there, she was airlifted to Harborview Medical center in Seattle. She is currently still recovering in Haborview. She has suffered back injuries, but faculty members who have spoken with her say that she is in stable condition. “It will be a long, slow, process of recovery,” said professor of English Jean Carwile Masteller. “But she will recover.”
Bridget, a 2005 graduate, was a parliamentary debater who had won many individual awards for her excellent public speaking skills as well as several 1st place victories in tournaments. She was known among all on the team as welcoming, kind, and incredibly talented. Bridget spent her Fulbright year studying the post-9/11 alliances that the U.S. government is trying to cultivate in moderate Islamic countries such as Bangladesh. Her presentation, according to a press release, was to be “a multimedia program that explores the vibrancy of Islam beyond the Arab world, challenges conceptions of Islam prevalent in Western media, and examines questions of power, autonomy, and political agendas in the field of development.”
Bridget is an example of someone who gives and does not stop giving—of her talents, her energy, and her time. On Friday, Sept. 1, the day after her talk, she planned to continue her research by going to Mumbai, India to learn Bengali. Despite the tight scheduling, she had found the time to come back to Whitman and share her experience as a Fulbright scholar with other interested students. She told Professor Masteller that she was “overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for students and faculty.” Someone who gave so much to Whitman both during and after her time here deserves nothing less.