Mitchell Scholars 2018: Prestige, Support for Recipients…and Applicants

Editor’s Note: The following information comes from the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, sponsors of the prestigious Mitchell Scholarship.We applaud the program’s support for both applicants and winners of the award.

November 19, 2016–The US-Ireland Alliance selected the 12 members of the 2018 Class of George J. Mitchell Scholars following interviews held Washington, D.C.

Members of the class include a military veteran; a young man working for the City of Flint; a young woman working to combat food insecurity in Kansas; a quarterback for an NCAA Division 1 football team; a future doctor who seeks to provide quality healthcare services to transgender people; and a future economist who serves as a research assistant in the White House Office the National Drug Control Policy.

The selection committee includes Frank Bruni, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist and the author of three bestselling books, including Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. One of his columns, “A Prudent College Path,” presented a very positive view of public university honors programs. The Mitchell program is very interested in applicants from honors students.

The scholarship program was created nearly 20 years ago by Trina Vargo, founder of the US-Ireland Alliance. This year, the nationwide competition attracted 323 applicants (up 14% from the previous year) for the 12 scholarships named in honor of the former Maine Senator’s contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process. Recipients are chosen on the basis of academic distinction, leadership and service and spend a year of post-graduate study at institutions of higher learning in Ireland.

Carolina Chavez, the new Director of the Mitchell Scholarship Program, worked previously for ten years on the Fulbright program at the Department of State. Chavez noted that in all of her experience, “I can tell you that the Mitchell Scholar network is exceptionally strong. Our alumni are involved and important to each other, to the Program, and to Ireland.”

Current sponsor of the Mitchell Scholarship program include Ireland’s Department of Education and Skills, Morgan Stanley, CRH and the American Ireland Fund.

“There are numerous applicants who are incredibly talented,” Ms. Vargo said. “While we can’t offer them all a scholarship, we recognize the major effort entailed in simply applying, and we wanted to find ways to help increase their opportunities….This year, we have initiated a process whereby the resumes of applicants may be shared with our major sponsors. This is a win-win given that recruitment of top talent is a priority for many companies.”

Those selected today will begin their studies in Ireland in September 2017.

George J. Mitchell Scholarship, Class of 2018

Joel Arnold graduated from Michigan State University with a double major in Social Relations/Policy and Urban and Regional Planning. A native of Flint, Michigan, Joel is currently a Blight Management Analyst for the City of Flint and administers the Love Your Block Program, which provides residents and local organizations with no-cost resources to perform major beautification efforts….He will study Urban Policy Stream at University College Dublin.

Margaret Born is a senior at Michigan State University, double majoring in Arabic and Comparative Cultures and Politics. Born to American aid workers in South Africa, Margaret grew up in Mozambique and moved to Wyoming for high school. Interested in issues of diversity and inclusion, she founded Project Nur at MSU in 2013, a student-led organization focused on combating Islamophobia on campus….Margaret aspires to work on international refugee policy and she will study International Development, Environment, and Conflict at Dublin City University.

Theodore L. Caputi is a senior majoring in Mathematics and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Interested in the factors that contribute to drug and alcohol addiction since high school, Theodore is currently a White House research assistant in the Office of National Drug Control Policy where he conducts analysis of the nation’s drug prevention and treatment strategies. Theodore has published several papers in peer-reviewed journals…. He will study Public Health Promotion at University College Cork.

Donovan Hicks is a recent graduate of Wofford College where he double majored in Government and Finance. A native of South Carolina, Donovan became attuned to the inequities in his community at an early age. As a college freshman, he began a long-term internship with South Carolina Legal Services, providing legal assistance to persons well below the poverty line…. He will study Race, Ethnicity, and Conflict at Trinity College Dublin.

Meghan Hind is a senior at Harvard majoring in Neurobiology. Her interests lie in the brain circuitry behind decision-making and how beliefs and behaviors affect the decision-making process. She has organized and executed several wellness programs for her Harvard classmates, most recently serving as the Director of Workshops for LifeHack Improvitas, which brought prominent figures to campus to discuss self-improvement… She will study Values and Knowledge at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Peter Kiernan is a senior majoring in Political Science at Columbia University. Raised on Long Island, Pete joined the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after high school and became the youngest Marine to serve in the elite Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. After six years of service, Pete enrolled at Columbia where he founded the Ivy League Veterans Council, a not-for-profit dedicated to provide veterans equal access to top colleges and universities….He will study Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation at Trinity College Dublin.

Miranda Klugesherz obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Communication Studies from Hastings College and is currently a Master’s degree student in Communications Studies at Kansas State University. Concerned with food insecurity for much of her life, she currently serves as the Chair of the Junction City Food Policy Council, which advises the City Commission on matters related to the local food system…. She will study Social Policy at University College Cork.

Elizabeth (Ellie) Sell is a senior Chemistry student at Princeton University and an Emergency Medical Technician with the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. As a research assistant at Children’s National Medical Center, Ellie used data from a trauma registry and GIS mapping to identify neighborhoods where certain types of injuries were more prevalent, giving her fellow health educators information to better hone their outreach efforts….An aspiring physician, she will study Gender, Sexuality and Culture at University College Dublin.

Lacey Smith is a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she majored Health and Human Sciences.  A native of the Los Angeles area, Lacey is currently working in Haiti as a Global Health Fellow with Medical Missionaries, a US-based volunteer organization….She will study Immunology and Global Health at Maynooth University.

Tyler Swafford is a senior at Eastern Kentucky University majoring in Globalization and International Affairs. He is the starting quarterback of the Division I EKU football team and serves on the EKU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as the liaison between the team and the EKU administration. He has twice received the Ohio Valley Conference Academic Medal of Honor for having the highest GPA (4.0) on the football team…. An aspiring human rights attorney, he will study Geopolitics and Global Economy at University College Dublin.

May Treuhaft-Ali is a senior at Wesleyan University majoring in Theater Studies. With a belief that theater has the power to question and deconstruct systems of power, May has written and directed plays for Wesleyan’s Theater Department and Second Stage. Her plays were selected twice by the LA-based Blank Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights Festival, a national competition for young writers…. She will study Theatre and Performance at Trinity College Dublin.

Kathleen White is a graduate of Manhattan College and holds a degree in History and Peace Studies. A social justice advocate, Kathleen joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after college and served as Outreach Coordinator for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth where she worked on abolishing juvenile life without parole….Kathleen will study Sociology at University College College Cork.

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