Office of Distinguished Scholarships
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Griffin McGuire from Charlotte, NC has been awarded the National Security Education Program’s David L. Boren Scholarship, which supports various fields of study, particularly languages, identified as critical to United States national security.
McGuire is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2021. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the United States. “To continue to play a leadership role in the world, it is vital that America’s future leaders have a deep understanding of the rest of the world,” says former U.S. Senator David Boren, the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program. “As we seek to lead through partnerships, understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential.”
Valued at up to $30,000, Boren scholarships are awarded to students in exchange for their commitment to pursue work in federal government departments like defense, homeland security and state or intelligence agencies after graduation. Boren Scholars live and study in areas of the world that are important to national security.
McGuire, 22, is a student ambassador for the Russian Flagship Program, where he helps to organize and lead RFP events, run social media accounts, and represent the program to groups of prospective students. The Boren Scholarship will enable him to travel to Kazakhstan and where he plans to study at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. Following the completion of his capstone year, he will graduate with a double major in Global Studies (International Politics & Russia) and Political Science as well as a minor in Music minor.
When asked about what sparked his interest in the Russian Flagship Program at UNC Chapel Hill McGuire said, “I’ve always had an interest in global affairs and history. My interest in Russian language came out of an interest in Cold War history and relations between the US and the USSR/Russia. I’ve now studied Russian for several years and it’s one of my most meaningful academic focuses. This program in Almaty, Kazakhstan is perfect for my interests. I want nothing more than to be completely fluent in Russian, and I very much look forward to exploring another corner of the post-Soviet world.”
Submitted by the Office of Distinguished Scholarships
Paloma Armendáriz Ruiz is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 51st Goldwater Scholar
Ruiz is one of 410 students nationwide to win the award this year
Paloma Armendáriz Ruiz, a third-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was recently selected for the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. Ruiz, who is pursuing a major in quantitative biology, hopes to earn a doctorate of philosophy in genetics with a focus on computational genomics. Ultimately, she would like to conduct research and teach at the university level.
Ruiz, 21, from Cary, NC is one of 410 students nationwide to win the award, selected from a pool of 1,256 candidates nominated by their universities. Ruiz is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 51st Goldwater Scholar. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board.
“It is an honor to have been selected as a Goldwater Scholar.” Ruiz said. “I have deep passion for research, specifically combining genetics with computational analysis in order gain a deeper understanding of disease progression. I am excited to now be a part of a community that is dedicated to the advancement of STEM in all fields and look forward to interacting with Goldwater Scholars across the country. The program is organizing Zoom meetups as well as virtual mentorship opportunities, which will hopefully transition soon into in person meetups. I’m incredibly grateful to the University and ODS for this opportunity as well as the Strahl Lab and the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program, who have truly shaped my experience here at UNC and have motivated me to succeed in all areas.”
Paloma currently works in the lab of Dr. Brian Strahl at the UNC School of Medicine, exploring how epigenetic changes affect human health, and during the summer of 2020 Paloma was accepted to the Broad Summer Research Program (BSRP) at the Broad
Institute of MIT and Harvard. This summer intensive afforded her opportunities to gain hands-on research experience in quantitative biology. Ruiz is also a member of Cohort 6 of the Chancellor’s Science Scholars (CSS) Program, a merit-based scholarship program at UNC, focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.
Outside the classroom and lab, Ruiz’s has been active in mentoring underclassmen throughout her undergraduate career. She is currently a Biology Ambassador, an undergraduate representative of the Department of Biology at UNC, where she mentors first-year biology majors and assists them in their transition into college and their STEM courses. As a Latina student, she has made providing encouragement and empowering typically underrepresented students in STEM a priority. In addition to being a Biology Ambassador, Ruiz is a Residential Advisor (RA). Being able to serve others is one of her core values and she plans to incorporate these experiences as she journeys on to mentor researchers in the lab and undergraduate students when she becomes a research professor in the future. As a Quantitative Biology major, her long-term goal is to continue in research and gain the skills needed to utilize computational methods to correlate the epigenetic code and levels of gene expression, which may lead to breakthroughs in various diseases such as cancer.
Professor Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, said, “few undergraduate students have made such a contribution to promoting the pursuit of research among students who are new to research. Our office has been very impressed with Paloma’s generosity as well as her scientific brilliance.”
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. It is considered one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships in natural sciences, mathematics and engineering in America and is meant to prepare students for careers in research.
About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s nearly 330,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories and 161 countries. Over 178,000 live in North Carolina.
Following a highly competitive nationwide selection process, Radhika Arora and Angela Chin were awarded a 2021 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship. The Rangel Fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University, supports extraordinary individuals who want to pursue a career in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State. The Rangel Program aims to enhance the excellence and diversity of the U.S. Foreign Service. Established in 2003, the Rangel Program selects outstanding fellows annually in a highly competitive nationwide selection process and supports them through two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring and professional development activities. Individuals who have successfully completed the Rangel Program are now serving as diplomats around the world, contributing to a more diverse representation and effective execution of U.S. foreign policy.
The Rangel Fellowship will support Radhika and Angela through a two-year master’s degree in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service. It will also provide extensive professional development opportunities, including internships, mentors, and skills training. As part of the Rangel Program, Radhika and Angela will intern with a Member of Congress on issues related to foreign affairs in summer 2021. In summer 2022, the U.S. Department of State will send them overseas to intern in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to gain hands-on experience in U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Foreign Service. Upon successful completion of the program, they will become a U.S. diplomat in summer 2023, embarking on one of the most challenging and rewarding careers of service to her country. They both will work to advance U.S. interests, protect American citizens, and promote peace and prosperity around the world.
Born and raised in Chandler, Arizona, Radhika has dreamt of serving her country as a diplomat since high school. She served as Chandler High School’s Student Body President before attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, she studied Business Administration and Arabic. She also taught English in Taiwan through AIESEC, traveled to Japan with the Kakehashi Project, and studied Arabic in Morocco on a Critical Language Scholarship. Her experiences interning in the State Department’s Office of Iraqi Affairs and at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan re-affirmed her commitment to a future Foreign Service career. After graduation, she joined Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Government & Public Services practice to advise federal agencies and international NGOs on navigating their strategic priorities and challenges.
Radhika’s journey has now led her to the Rangel Fellowship, and she is excited about beginning her career in diplomacy. She is grateful for her mother, an immigrant from India, for making tremendous sacrifices to raise her and her older sister. Radhika also credits Chandler’s diverse community and public schools for inspiring her early interest in public service and global affairs. Upon receiving the fellowship, she commented, “serving the people and values of the United States as a Foreign Service Officer has been a dream of mine since childhood and required unwavering perseverance to achieve. I am so grateful to the countless family, friends, teachers, mentors, and colleagues who have been a part of this journey with me, and I can’t wait to share their beautifully diverse stories all around the world.”
A native of Mitchellville, Maryland, Angela graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Global Studies. While at UNC, she studied abroad in Ecuador and Jordan, led the Black Students Abroad campus organization, and received the Chancellor’s Award for International Leadership. During her final semester, Angela interned for the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy through the UNC Honors Seminar on Public Policy and Global Affairs in Washington D.C. She is a 2018 Charles B. Rangel Summer Enrichment Program Scholar, a 2019 Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, and a 2020 Honors Carolina Laureate. Angela currently works as the Sudan and South Sudan Program Assistant at the U.S. Institute of Peace and serves as a member of the National Scholarship and Standards Committee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Angela’s journey has now led her to the Rangel Fellowship, and she is excited to begin her career in diplomacy after she completes graduate school. Upon receiving the fellowship, she called the opportunity “a dream come true.” She added, “As I connect with future leaders in foreign policy and prepare to serve my country, I am excited to contribute to a positive U.S. presence in the world as part of a State Department team that reflects and respects the strength and diversity of America.”
Submitted by the Office of Distinguished Scholarships
Faith Virago, a current senior at UNC studying Women’s and Gender Studies as well as Asian Studies-Chinese, has been selected as a 2021 Yenching Scholarship Recipient. The Yenching Academy is a fully funded residential program offering a wide array of interdisciplinary courses on China within broadly defined fields of the Humanities and Social Sciences. At Yenching Academy of Peking University. Faith plans to continue her studies of both the Chinese language and of women’s experiences in China. In graduate school, she hopes to reach fluency in Mandarin and start studying Cantonese and other dialects of Chinese.
As for her research in graduate school, she plans to continue the study she has started for her senior honors thesis. Her honor’s thesis research aims to analyze the effects of a cross-cultural transition from China to the US on Chinese women’s views of gender equality and feminism, while also serving as an archivist creating biographical sketches of their lives. Faith is passionate about combining gender studies and Chinese language, since there is particularly little scholarship on the experience of queer individuals in China.
Patrick Clinch, a senior studying history and political science in the College of Arts & Sciences, has been named Carolina’s 21st Marshall Scholar. The prestigious Marshall Scholarship funds graduate studies in any field at up to two institutions in the United Kingdom.
The Marshall Scholarship covers university fees, cost of living expenses, annual book grants, thesis grant, research and daily travel grants, and fares to and from the United States.
Founded in 1953, the scholarship finances the opportunity for young Americans of outstanding ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. The Marshall Scholarships honor the ideals of the Marshall Plan and are named after U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall. Marshall Scholarship selectors highly desire applicants who “have the potential to excel as scholars, leaders and contributors to improve U.K.-U.S. understanding.”
Patrick Clinch is Carolina’s 21st Marshall Scholar. The Marshall Scholarship covers university fees, cost of living expenses, annual book grants, thesis grant, research and daily travel grants, and fares to and from the United States. Read more here.
Alumni Peter Andringa and Sarah Mackenzie have been selected to join the newest cohort of Rhodes Scholars. He was one of 32 Americans selected Nov. 21, 2020. She was one of 11 Canadians selected for the honor on Nov. 23.
Andringa graduated in 2020 with degrees in journalism from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and computer science from the College of Arts & Sciences. He was also a Robertson Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a student representative on Faculty Council and a fellow at the Reese Innovation Lab.
“This incredible achievement is a testament to Peter’s hard work and dedication at Carolina,” said Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the highest honors bestowed upon our students, and I congratulate Peter on this opportunity to pursue his dreams at Oxford.”
Andringa is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 50th Rhodes Scholar since the program was established in 1902 and the 15th Carolina student selected since fall 2000.
The two alumni are Carolina’s 50th and 51st Rhodes Scholars since the program was established in 1902.
“This is a significant milestone in our great university’s 227-year history,” Guskiewicz said. “The prolonged success of our students in prestigious international programs like the Rhodes Scholarship is an example not just of all the outstanding students who attend Carolina, but also the world-class faculty and staff who mentor, support and encourage our students.”
Sarah Mackenzie graduated from Carolina in 2020 with degrees in public policy and global studies and a minor in Arabic from the College of Arts & Sciences. She was an active member of Campus Y’s Criminal Justice Awareness Action Group and the Community Empowerment Fund. Mackenzie also served as an honor court member and teaching assistant in the global studies department.
Road to the Rhodes
As a high school student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, Andringa aspired to have a career in big tech. But as he got older, Silicon Valley’s shine began to fade, and he became more disillusioned by the industry.
Despite the talents and capabilities of big tech companies, Andringa didn’t see them dealing with the complexities of the real world and making positive use of technology. Through his journalism courses at Hussman, he saw a new avenue to tap into his computer science skills and use emerging technologies to benefit society.
“It provided a model by which technology was being used to grapple with social problems and consider the human side of it,” he said. “It was never technology for technology’s sake. It was always, ‘How do we use technology to tell a story or make people feel something or help advocate for change?’ I really enjoyed that side of the J-School.”
Andringa combined general journalism courses with design and user experience classes and joined Hussman’s Reese Innovation Lab, where he worked with associate professor Steven King. He also conducted research to examine how social media is changing the way people interact with the news.
Additional internships with The Wall Street Journal, NBC and The Guardian helped Andringa land a position at The Washington Post, where he currently works as a data visualization engineer on elections coverage and projects that integrate technology into the Post’s reporting.
As a Rhodes Scholar, Andringa will now take a temporary step back from the industry to examine some of journalism’s most pressing challenges.
“I’m really interested in understanding the mechanics of trust online — how people trust the news, how people build relationships with news brands and journalists online, and how digital products affect how people trust it or how it’s shared,” he said.
The lack of trust in the media and its consequences, he said, have been on full display during the pandemic.
“There’s a very direct link between misinformation and harm in the pandemic,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call that we need to find ways to encourage trust in the types of media that are going to help communicate effectively with the public.”
The Rhodes Scholarship will provide Andringa with the opportunity to explore those topics deeper before returning to journalism.
“The thing that is exciting to me is the space to pursue these types of research questions that I’m interested in and that frequently connect directly back to the things I do at The Post right now,” he said. “I’m hopeful the access to experts and the access to more time to really dive into some of these topics around trust, design and digital news can transfer directly back into helping news organizations build wider audiences that trust them and ultimately disseminate more fact than disinformation online.”
Andringa will pursue a master’s in social science of the internet through Oxford’s Internet Institute, an interdisciplinary center that researches how the internet impacts society. He hopes to work across various research fields to find answers to some of the biggest questions facing journalism today.
“It draws on political science. It draws from sociology. It draws from media studies,” he said. “All of these studies need to intersect and work together to be able to grapple with these issues.”
Carolina was the only university in the United States that Mackenzie applied to.
“I got to go visit Carolina as a Morehead-Cain finalist, and it was such a warm, beautiful, exciting space to be in,” said Mackenzie, who grew up in Calgary, Alberta. “When I was lucky enough to be offered the scholarship, I knew it would be an opportunity that I wouldn’t have at any other point in my life — to move to the South, go to a really amazing flagship public school and try something different with a unique program like Morehead-Cain.”
As a Tar Heel, Mackenzie pursued academic disciplines that allowed her to examine and work on issues relating to social justice, poverty alleviation and human rights — advocacy passions developed as a student at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy.
After taking courses in economics and peace, war and defense at Carolina, Mackenzie landed on public policy as the major to prepare her to take on many of the world’s challenges.
“That felt like I was getting a lot of really important concrete research and analytical skills. At the same time, the work was grounded in real-world policy problems, and those were the things I cared about,” she said. “It just clicked that public policy felt like the happy medium between all the different things I cared about, and I just threw myself into public policy my junior spring and took exclusively public policy classes.”
When she wasn’t learning formally in the classroom, she was experiencing the real-world implications of public policy as a volunteer in the community. For all four years at Carolina, Mackenzie volunteered with the Community Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit in Chapel Hill working to end the racial wealth gap by helping community members transition out of homelessness and poverty. Mackenzie worked directly with community members to provide support and assisted in case management for fellow student advocates.
That experience, paired with internships in South Africa, New York and Washington, D.C., fueled her public policy interest.
“I felt personally invested in and put faces to the problems that I was reading about or studying. Too often in public policy, there’s a lack of awareness and concern for those most affected,” Mackenzie said. “Having the conversations and the work experience with people who were affected by the policies that I was interested in and studying felt important and very formative.”
Since graduating in May, Mackenzie has worked as a Thomas W. Ross North Carolina Leadership Fellow in Carolina’s public policy department and is currently a client advocate for the Center for Appellate Litigation in New York City. She has long-term plans of becoming a public defender.
Her stop at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, she said, will prepare her to be a better lawyer.
“Going to law school is obtaining a tool to be able to enact change if you want to do that, but you can’t use that tool without understanding the interaction between law and society — in particular law and marginalized people,” she said. “In order to use law effectively, you need to be able to evaluate and understand that.”
As a Rhodes Scholar, she plans to study social policy and interventions but is most looking forward to the community of scholars that she would be joining.
“The reason I’m so drawn to the Rhodes is because it’s a community of people who are dedicated to the same types of questions I’m asking myself and that I’ve encountered over my time at Carolina, but approached from different disciplines and different life experiences,” she said. “I think the opportunity to see beyond my own discipline in public policy and have really rich intellectual collaborations with other scholars is really exciting.”
The Beinecke Scholarship Program was established in 1971 by the Board of Directors of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company to honor Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke. The Board created an endowment to provide substantial scholarships for the graduate education of young men and women of exceptional promise.
The Beinecke Scholarship provides $34,000 to support graduate education. Students receive an initial $4,000 during their senior year and the remaining $30,000 is distributed within a two-to five-year period while the student completes graduate studies. Beinecke Scholars are considered for superior strength of character, intellectual ability, and sense of purpose.
Originally from Denver, North Carolina, Massey is a double major in American Studies and English/Comparative Literature, minoring in Art History. He has a near perfect GPA of 3.95. Massey’s interest in material culture has served as the intellectual foundation for his work at UNC and later inspired other academic interests in African-American art and expressive culture, poetics and semiotics, literature and literary studies, and music.
During his first year of university studies, Massey began volunteer work as a student guide at the Ackland Art Museum, where he developed an object-based tour, “Masks and Their Manifestations in Art.” As an Ackland Student Guide—a selective program in which undergraduates from all disciplines learn to teach in the museum and give thematic tours to the public—Massey excelled under the leadership of Elizabeth Manekin, Head of Academic Programs at the Ackland Museum. Massey conducted research on the collection and workshopped best practices in object-based pedagogy. In describing his contributions, Manekin writes, “he cultivated a profound respect and capacity for the language of things themselves. He approaches their analysis with rigor, synthesizing his own observations and findings with those he researches to craft original arguments.”
In 2019, Massey was one of 35 UNC honors students selected to study in London. His research project for the semester revolved around a Renaissance saltcellar he encountered on his first visit to the British Museum. Massey explored the material properties and utilitarian, social, and cultural functions of this type of decorative object by independently arranging site visits to study all the extant sixteenth-century saltcellars now in London.
Returning to Chapel Hill, Massey began working on the first collection of spoken-word poetry by American artist, musician, and poet Lonnie Holley. Holley’s spoken-word poetry, spanning nearly four decades, traverses genre and media. His work fostered Massey’s interest in poetics and the materiality of language, and forms the foundation for his prospective honors thesis, “The Music Lives After The Instrument Is Destroyed,” which will focus on the play between language and image in Holley’s visual art and poetry. Massey’s work on the collection of Holley’s spoken-word poetry, Wordsmithing, is likely to be published in 2022. As his advisor and collaborator, Dr. Bernie Herman, the George B. Tindall Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies and Folklore, as well as Adjunct professor in Art History, explains, “This manuscript will be the first book on Holley’s spoken poetry…a truly significant project that will discover a larger national audience.” Mr. Massey’s project is a freestanding element in a larger initiative centered on a planned spring 2022 exhibition, “The Unfinished Business of Unsettled Things: Art from an African-American South,” at UNC’s Ackland Art Museum.
Massey is passionate about material culture and committed to its study at the graduate level. He plans to enroll in a graduate program focusing on material culture studies, combining research interests in poetics, art, language, semiotics of landscape, psychogeography, folklore, history, and aesthetics. After graduate school, he plans to enter academia as a lecturing professor or a professor of the practice working with art and his other intellectual interests either in the classroom or in the museum space.
Mina Yakubu, a Carolina junior, has just been selected as a 2020 Truman Scholar.
Created in 1975 soon after President Harry S. Truman passed away, the Truman Scholarship Foundation awards merit-based scholarships to college students who plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate or professional school, participate in leadership development activities, and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government. The foundation selects approximately 60 scholars each year.
“Mina has the intelligence, knowledge, drive, presence, experience, leadership capacity and persuasive abilities to make great changes for the better on a national level,” said Inger Brodey, associate professor in English and comparative literature. “We foresee a highly promising professional and international trajectory, after completing her law degree with an emphasis on human rights law.”
An African studies and political science double major, Yakubu has extensive experience with civil rights advocacy and public service. Her interests in immigration and migration struggles stem from her own experiences as an immigrant from Ghana, where she subsequently also worked as an intern, supporting citizens’ access to legal counsel. At Carolina, Yakubu is a Morehead-Cain scholar and extremely active student, particularly in matters related to service to African peoples, human rights and immigration.
Yakubu is a Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America organization Scholar and Jack Kent Cooke College Scholar. This past summer, she was selected as one of 20 TRIALS fellows (out of 2,000 applicants) to engage in a Harvard Law School program for promising legal scholars and practitioners. Yakubu has expanded her legal knowledge and international exposure through her work at the Innocence Project London, the Legal Aid Scheme in Greater Accra, Ghana and as a Fortis Society Future Global Leader. She is tireless in her work to improve human rights, especially for those who seek citizenship in the U.S.
The Truman Scholarship will provide Yakubu with the opportunity to attend law school. She aims to learn the law and use it as a tool to empower immigrants seeking residency and citizenship. Yakubu is interested in working with a side of immigration that is not given much attention in the current narrative, aiding the experiences of black African immigrants. She hopes to put her voice behind immigrants and those who have long been excluded from the conversation. Following the completion of law school, Yakubu would like to obtain placement at an international organization, specifically focused on issues of human rights, migration and immigration as it relates to African populations.
Sandy Alkoutami, a 2018 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Yusheng Zhang, a 2019 graduate of the University, have been selected for the Schwarzman Scholars program, one of the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowships, located at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University.
A Morehead-Cain Scholar, Sandy Alkoutami graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in public policy and economics and a minor in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. She graduated with highest distinction and was awarded honors for her public policy senior thesis, “Understanding Insurgent Behaviors: The Effect of External Support on Insurgent Violence in Civil Conflicts.”
During her time as a Carolina student, Alkoutami worked as a Student Foreign Service Intern at the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy of Lebanon, interned for the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and interned at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.
After graduating, she served as an English teaching assistant at the Islamic Educational College in Amman, Jordan, while interning with the refugee resettlement agency Questscope under a J. William Fulbright Scholarship. As a Fulbright Fellow working in refugee camps, Alkoutami was able to initiate and implement resettlement programs while observing China’s investment in Syria.
For the past year, Alkoutami has been a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow with the Middle East Program run by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. Her research has focused on sub-state militia integration and proxy war intervention in Libya and the electoral state of affairs in Algeria.
Alkoutami feels invested in conflict resolution and matters relating to political, economic and social change in the Middle East and North Africa. Her language skills and cultural understanding in addition to her academic and professional experience made her an ideal candidate. She believes U.S. and Chinese policies toward the regions are central to conflict resolution in Syria and its Arab neighbors. According to Zeina G. Halabi, an UNC-Chapel Hill assistant professor of Arabic literature, “As a Syrian-American, [Alkoutami] is very much acquainted with the notion of difference, whether linguistic, religious or cultural. Her ability to smoothly navigate different cultural settings impresses her interlocutors.”
Yusheng Zhang is one of two UNC-Chapel Hill alumni from the 2020 cohort, selected from a worldwide pool of over 4,700 candidates. According to Kenan-Flagler Professor and Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Director Ted Zoller, “[Zhang] combines both rigor from an academic perspective and an entrepreneur’s versatility to put his ideas into practice. [His] unique life experiences as a Chinese-American passionate about building bridges between the U.S. and China will allow him to contribute to the success of the Schwarzman Scholars program in countless ways.”
Zhang graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2019 with a major in business administration and global studies and a minor in music. As an Honors student and GLOBE Scholar, he studied at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Copenhagen Business School and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, Zhang founded 180 Degrees Consulting-UNC, served as Carolina International Relations Association president and co-organized the 2018 Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit. After graduating, Zhang worked as a research associate for the Global Entrepreneurship Network, a Fortune 50 company, and a microfinance nonprofit. He is currently a consultant at Ernst & Young.
Zhang is passionate about helping nonprofits that address social causes, from poverty eradication to food access and in creating a unified vision for governments, nonprofits and investors. While working as a China Analyst for Fortuna Holdings, Zhang drafted a government grant pitch for an indoor hydroponic greenhouse startup that would quickly and economically produce fresh fruits and vegetables in the Beijing suburbs. However, he soon realized that the company could not fully realize its social mission of reducing the local community’s reliance on imported produce unless mentors and investors understood Beijing society. As a result of experiences like this, he believes that when investors don’t understand an emerging market’s culture and history, their subsequent reluctance to invest in the region’s entrepreneurs both weakens financial infrastructure and smothers innovation.
Therefore, he hopes to help investors and entrepreneurs overcome these cultural barriers and connect Chinese entrepreneurs with global audiences. Zhang’s experience in cross-cultural, cross-sector entrepreneurial collaboration made him an ideal candidate for the Schwarzman Scholars Program. “His visionary leadership, grit and determination, and global, entrepreneurial mindset certainly provide him with the abilities to respond effectively to the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century and serve as a bridge between China and the rest of the world,” according to Anna Miller, UNC Kenan-Flagler Undergraduate Business Program’s assistant dean.
The Eisenhower Global Scholars Program sends four outstanding American university graduates abroad each year to prestigious universities in Europe for intensive study and hands-on work experience in two major areas: 1) public policy with a focus on public service and effective governance and 2) international relations with a focus on global business, innovation and entrepreneurship. Each Eisenhower Scholar will spends a full academic year of postgraduate study leading to a Master’s Degree at either the University of Oxford or IE University in Madrid.
Originally from Waxhaw, NC, Christian Correa recently graduated with Honors and Highest Distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Political Science and Sociology and a minor in Spanish for the Professions with a concentration in Business.
Correa made the Dean’s List every semester at UNC-CH. He served as Vice-Chair of the Undergraduate Senate and as the Senator-at-Large in the Joint Governance Council. He has previously been selected to be a Polis Fellow, a New Sector Alliance Fellow, Raja Gaddipati Fellow and received the Hayden B. Renwick Academic Achievement Award.
As an Eisenhower fellow Correa will pursue a Master’s in International Relations at the IE School of Global and Public Affairs. He was specifically drawn to the IE School of Global and Public Affairs for its research attention to digital ecosystems and changing technologies. He is fascinated by the intersection of public policy and media, and how governments and businesses employ new technology. He plans to use this degree to advance a career in corporate responsibility, policy, and government.
As an Eisenhower Scholar, he will work on solving racial disparities in COVID-19 testing, infection, and mortality rates.
Two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumnae are recipients of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which funds graduate studies in any field at up to two United Kingdom institutions.
Anne Sutton, a 2018 graduate with degrees in music and geography, and Olivia Holder, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2018, are Carolina’s 19th and 20th Marshall Scholars.
The Marshall Scholarship averages about £35,000 a year, which covers university fees, cost of living expenses, annual book grants, thesis grant, research and daily travel grants and fares to and from the United States.
Founded in 1953, the scholarship finances the opportunity for young Americans of outstanding ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. The Marshall Scholarships honor the ideals of the Marshall Plan and are named after U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall. Applicants who “have the potential to excel as scholars, leaders and contributors to improved U.K.-U.S. understanding” are highly desired by Marshall Scholarships selectors.
“We are proud of Anne and Olivia’s incredible achievement as they join the 18 other Carolina Marshall Scholars,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “This prestigious honor is a testament to their hard work and dedication, and I congratulate them on this opportunity to pursue excellence in their research and scholarship in the United Kingdom. They will be wonderful ambassadors for Carolina as Marshall scholars.”
Returning to research
After a year as a professional church choir singer and music teacher, Sutton will return to the library stacks and dig into the history of European music.
The Marshall Scholarship will provide Sutton an opportunity to return to the United Kingdom to continue research that she initially started as a Robinson Fellow while she was at Carolina.
Sutton traveled to England in 2017 to research how female singers affected composition, specifically their role in the musical zeitgeist during the Baroque era in the early 1700s.
“There’s a huge wealth of music and early manuscripts, particularly at the British Library,” said Sutton, who grew up in Burlington, Vermont. “To be able to be there and see all the markings on the page is really a unique experience.”
Sutton’s undergraduate research ultimately led her to create a modern edition of a baroque score and perform it for a U.S. audience for the first time.
Now, as a Marshall Scholar, she will be able to take her research to a deeper level as a master’s student.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “Getting funding to study music is so rare, and it feels incredible to have.”
The research path that ultimately landed her the scholarship began as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill. Though she was always interested in Baroque music, Carolina professors helped her turn her passion into research.
“It was my professors at Carolina who really fostered that and gave me the opportunity to expand on that interest,” said Sutton, who was a member of various Carolina music ensembles include UNC Opera, Carolina Choir and Charanga Carolina.
Her geography coursework, Sutton said, also helped her develop a new mindset that gives her a unique approach to studying music – one that could bring a new perspective to Baroque music.
“Studying geography, which is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizes so many different lenses to understand different phenomena,” she said. “I wanted to take that same understanding of interconnectedness and the value of an interdisciplinary approach to not only think about the music I was performing as a performer, but as a researcher, as a historian.”
From China to the U.K.
Holder arrived at her Marshall Scholarship interview jetlagged and exhausted after several overnight flights from Beijing, China, where she is currently a Yenching Scholar. The transcontinental journey left her in such a haze that she can’t recall now what she talked about during her scholarship interview.
But she remembers getting the call from the consulate the next day and finding out that she had been named a Marshall Scholar.
“I was so happy,” said Holder, who is in her second year of a master’s program at the Yenching Academy of Peking University in China. “It was worth the jetlag.”
As a Marshall Scholar, Holder will study art and museum studies — interests she traces back to Carolina, where she discovered the role museums can play in bridging cultures.
Holder graduated from Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in history, concentrating on modern European history, with minors in Chinese and comparative literature.
At Carolina, Holder curated an exhibit of ceramics and prints. Her goal was to showcase how tea connects communities in China, Great Britain, the Caribbean and nations across the world.
“I love thinking about museums’ role in international relations and diplomacy,” said Holder, a native of Greenville, North Carolina. “They can cross national borders and bring people together across oceans.”
Now focusing her attention on U.S.-U.K. relations, Holder hopes the Marshall Scholarship will set her up for a lifetime of connecting with others through scholarship and art.
“I am excited for the theory and the studies, but I’m also really excited about the communities that we will form,” she said. “I’m sure each Marshall Scholar will find a really rich academic environment at their respective universities, so we’re sure to find wonderful communities and lifelong friends.”
UNC-CH senior Wesley Price has been selected as one of the 18 Luce Scholars for the 2020-2021 year. A nationally competitive fellowship program, the Luce Scholars Program was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15-18 Luce Scholars each year.
A double major in Political Science and Biology, Price has “demonstrated a nimble intellect and academic accomplishment across a range of disciplines,” according to Professor Jonathan Hartlyn, Kenneth J. Rockford Distinguished Professor of Political Science at UNC.
Wesley was selected for the Morehead-Cain Scholarship because of his outstanding combination of academic accomplishment, leadership, and character, and yet somehow during his UNC career he has continued to exceed expectations. As evidenced by his 3.92 GPA, Wesley has performed at the very highest of levels in the academy while remaining deeply engaged in the community as a volunteer. He has developed a civics curriculum for local schools as a leader in UNC’s Institute of Politics; has served as a Spanish translator for patients at the Student Health Action Coalition clinic; and has tutored middle school students from under-resourced communities on a weekly basis. He also sang in UNC’s oldest a cappella group, the Clef Hangers.
Price earned induction into Phi Beta Kappa in his senior year, and is writing an honors thesis under the supervision of Professor Sarah Treul, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor in the Department of Political Science at UNC. Dr. Treul believes “Wesley is well on his way to providing an answer to how federalism can influence redistributive policies. This thesis will make an immediate impact in the fields of state politics, policy, and political economy.” His scholarship is timely and directly related to his passion for civic engagement.
Price’s longer-term career plans are to develop evidence-based policy and programming solutions on issues of public health in the United States. In Asia, he hopes to work on health policy innovation and study model approaches to conquering the disparities between rural and urban health care delivery.
Two University of North Carolina students were recently among the 28 chosen nationwide for the prestigious Gates Cambridge scholarship. UNC School of Medicine MD/PhD student Yasemin Cole (also a Carolina alumna) and UNC-Chapel Hill senior Daniel Malawsky will both be attending the University of Cambridge pursuing Ph.D.s in genomic sciences as Gates Cambridge Scholars.
Gates Cambridge Scholarships are highly competitive fully funded scholarships for graduate study. They are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the United Kingdom to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge.
Both Cole and Malawsky are multinational geneticists who see the importance of genetics to the future of applied medicine and also have a passion for refugee health; Cole holds dual citizenship with Turkey and speaks Turkish and Spanish; Malawsky has dual citizenship with Israel and speaks Hebrew fluently.
Cole was selected for this esteemed scholarship due to her academic track record, sense of career trajectory, leadership, and commitment to improve the lives of others. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences Anne Bowcock, who was involved in the discovery of BRCA1 gene, says ““I am delighted that Yasemin’s hard work and talent are being recognized with this highly prestigious award. This should leverage her to research areas where she can truly help to improve the human condition.”
As a Biology major and with minors in medical anthropology and chemistry, Cole excelled in her advanced coursework, which led to her graduation with highest distinction and induction into Phi Beta Kappa. As an undergraduate researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill and the National Institutes of Health, she gained a broad understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying disease, ranging from genetic therapies for diabetes (Anton Jetten Lab, NIH) to the circadian rhythms of tumors (Aziz Sancar Lab, UNC School of Medicine). It was through this work she found her passion in cancer molecular biology and precision medicine. Her research work in Jeanette Cook’s Lab at UNC School of Medicine culminated in a senior honors thesis on the phosphorylation regulation of Cdt1, a protein in the cell cycle. She has co-authored multiple articles in “Molecular Biology of the Cell” and “PLOS One.”
While an undergraduate in the Honors Program, Cole contributed to the Chapel Hill community by serving in organizations such as Carolina Pre-Medical Association, UNC Partners in Health, and the Office of Undergraduate Research. She earned the title of Buckley Service Scholar for her hundreds of community service hours. She designed and taught a seminar on the past, present, and future of medicine with the CSTART program, which focused on the integrative nature of research and medicine. She was awarded the Student Undergraduate Teaching Award (Chancellor’s Award) for her teaching excellence and creating a dynamic learning environment.
After graduating in May 2016, she completed her master’s in genomic medicine at Imperial College London with the Dean’s Master’s Scholarship, where she graduated first in her class. She completed her master’s thesis on uveal melanoma genomics in Professor Anne Bowcock’s Lab. Before starting the MD/Ph.D. program at UNC School of Medicine, she worked in UNC School of Medicine Professor Jonathan Berg’s lab conducting genomic medicine translational research.
Outside of medical coursework and clinical work, Cole is continuing her commitment to underserved populations and genomics education by volunteering at Student Health Action Coalition, working with refugee families with Refugee Community Partnership, and leading DNA Day CONNECT.
As an NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholar, Cole will complete her PhD studies at both the National Institutes of Health and the University of Cambridge. She plans to study the genomic landscape of paragangliomas, pheochromocytomas and gastrointestinal stromal tumors at the NIH and the University of Cambridge in the labs of Zhengping Zhuang (National Cancer Institute) and Eamonn Maher (University of Cambridge). Through metabolic, epigenetic and functional genomic studies, she hopes to elucidate the biological underpinnings of these devastating neuroendocrine tumors, leading to advancements in prognostication and treatment.
Yasemin aspires to be a physician-scientist, improving the lives of patients through a combination of direct care and translational research. In this capacity, she aims to translate scientific advancements into precision medicine diagnostics and therapeutics.
Malawsky was accepted for his outstanding intellectual ability, leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others. Given his well roundedness, UNC-Chapel Hill physics and astronomy Assistant Professor Adrienne Erickcek describes Malawsky as “the complete package: a successful student, an accomplished researcher, a talented artist, and a compassionate humanitarian.”
While taking a wide array of advanced courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, Malawsky has maintained a 3.97/4.00 GPA. He was awarded a Morehead-Cain Scholarship, which is the University’s premier scholarship based on academic excellence, leadership and moral force of character. He will graduate Phi Beta Kappa in May 2020, majoring in biostatistics and mathematics with a minor in chemistry.
While at Carolina, Malawsky joined UNC School of Medicine Associate Professor Timothy Gershon’s neurology lab. He is a co-author on an article published in the journal “Nature Communications.” More recently, Malawsky completed two summer research projects abroad, one at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and another at the University of Oxford.
Malawsky’s contributions to UNC-Chapel Hill extend far beyond the classroom and laboratory. He has also designed and taught a seminar on the misuse of science in the public sphere and founded a critical theory reading group on campus to discuss works related to Judith Butler’s book “Parting Ways.” Additionally, he is an accomplished cellist and plays in multiple chamber ensembles at UNC-Chapel Hill and elsewhere.
Malawsky’s commitment to serving underprivileged populations is evident in his proposed program of study. He will be completing his Ph.D. in biological sciences at the Wellcome Sanger Institute working with Hilary Martin. Malawsky proposes to research medical population genetics of understudied populations. He plans to apply mathematical techniques to genetic datasets to identify rare and undertreated genetic diseases.
Outside the lab, both Cole and Malawsky will continue their involvement in scientific outreach and refugee health. The future scientist and future physician-scientist will join the interdisciplinary cohort of Gates-Cambridge Scholars working to improve global health.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior Daniel Malawsky, who is currently studying biostatistics, has been named a Churchill Scholarship recipient by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States.
Malawsky is one of 15 American scholars selected for this research-focused award, which provides funding for master’s study at the University of Cambridge in England. He will be based at the school’s Churchill College, the only college at Cambridge focused on STEM subjects.
Malawsky, a Morehead-Cain Scholar, has also won a C-START Program grant and an outstanding poster award at the Stanford Research Conference. Additionally, he is also a concert-level cellist. He will graduate Phi Beta Kappa in May 2020, majoring in biostatistics and mathematics with a minor in chemistry.
“Daniel is exceptional—not just for his academic excellence, but also for the way he blends his studies with his research interests and copious number and depth of interests,” writes Gillings School of Global Public Health Associate Professor Jane Monaco. Malawsky continuously seeks to be involved in projects that synthesize his knowledge of chemistry, biology, statistics and programming. A scientist at heart, Malawsky has participated in various projects throughout his college career, ranging from conducting neuroscience research concerning the neural circuitry of anxiety at the National Institute of Health Sciences, identifying the causes of therapeutic resistance in medulloblastomas at UNC-Chapel Hill and developing a computer simulation of chemical reactions to study the origins of life at Oxford University.
However, Malawsky’s most transformative experience may have been volunteering at the Terem refugee clinic in Tel Aviv the summer after his first year of college. During his time at the clinic, Malawsky grew close with Eritrean community members, and learned about the public health and social challenges they face in Israel. While at Terem, he helped refugees prepare asylum seeker requests and translated their personal statements into English and also worked to establish partnerships between the clinic and other health-related organizations. When he returned to his studies, his interests shifted to figuring out how he could apply what he had learned to narrow the gaps in medical equity for the Eritrean population in Israel.
Malawsky’s experience working with the Eritrean community in Israel, coupled with his interest in bioinformatics research and medical ethics, led him to shift his focus to medical population genetics research in marginalized groups. At Cambridge, Malawsky will be studying biological science, researching the medical genetics of understudied populations from south Asia. The year at Churchill College will further develop Malawsky’s ability to make a difference in the world of population genetics.
Three Carolina students have received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships: Camryn Kepley, Liana Kostak, and Maria Morava. The Gilman Scholarship Program broadens the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages.
Camryn Kepley is a rising junior Psychology (BA) major from Apex, North Carolina on the pre-Masters in Teaching (MAT) track with plans to be an elementary school teacher after finishing undergraduate and Master’s programs. This fall, she is traveling to Greece with the College Year in Athens program to learn about Greek culture and history, while fulfilling general education credits for Carolina.
Liana Kostak is a rising senior at UNC studying Psychology and Biology and minoring in Medical Anthropology. She will be going abroad to Shanghai, China for the Fall 2019 semester. With the assistance of the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship, as well as the Lan Ma and Gang Pei Scholarship, she will have the opportunity to intern in Shanghai and take classes in Mandarin in a devoted effort to become a more global student and citizen. Upon returning to UNC, Liana, who was born in China and is returning for the first time, is excited to use her experiences abroad to teach a UNC Splash course, as well as reach out to the Asian/Adopted Community on campus to share her insights gained in China. Liana plans to pursue an MPH and is confident that this experience abroad will expand her knowledge and understanding of the larger world.
Maria Morava is a rising junior from Hendersonville, North Carolina majoring in Global Studies and Journalism. She will be spending the Fall semester in Jordan with an SIT Study Abroad program focusing on the regional refugee crisis and refugee health. She will be taking thematic classes as well as Arabic language classes, culminating in an option to pursue an internship or an independent study project. She is eager to further her Arabic language skills, have thoughtful conversations, and examine her own positionality as a foreigner and student of these sensitive topics in a different country.
Four University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students are being recognized by the National Security Education Program with Boren Awards, which support fields of study identified as critical to the national security of the United States, particularly language study.
Nicole Behnke, Devin Duque, and James Hepburn were three of 106 graduate students chosen for David L. Boren Fellowships and Marissa Muller was one of 244 undergraduate students chosen for a David L. Boren Scholarship. Behnke, Duque, and Hepburn are the 18th, 19th, and 20th Boren Fellows from Carolina and Muller is the University’s 15th Boren Scholar. The Boren Awards program provides U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren Award recipients agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.
“Thanks to the National Security Education Program, three Carolina students will advance their language skills and understanding of other cultures, which will help them better serve our nation and the world,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz.* “A nation’s major challenges usually have global dimensions that require global solutions. Nicole, James and Marissa’s accomplishments demonstrate their global mindsets. Thanks to the Boren Awards, they will further their studies and work in areas critical to our national security.”*
“We are delighted that our talented Carolina students have won Boren Awards. This is a new record for us. These students all aspire to use their language learning in ways that will increase the security of the United States and its allies,” said Professor Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships.
Behnke, 25, from Durham, is the daughter of Paul and Debra Behnke. She graduated from Carolina in 2016 with majors in peace, war and defense and political science and a minor in environmental studies. She is currently a graduate student in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her Boren Fellowship will fund her study of Modern Standard Arabic at Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan.
Behnke came to UNC-Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar, becoming a member of Honors Carolina and a field researcher in Zambia with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Water Institute. After graduating from Carolina, she worked as a research assistant at Water 2017, a global water advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. As a current graduate student in the second year of pursuing a master’s of science in public health in environmental sciences and engineering, she continues to work as a graduate research assistant at the Water Institute and worked as a water, sanitation and hygiene research intern at World Vision International. She received a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship to study Arabic through UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Duque, 23, from Asheville, is the son of Ramon and Sarah Duque. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2018 with majors in Peace, War, and Defense and Political Science, and a minor in Spanish Professions for Law. He is currently a graduate student with the Transatlantic Master’s program and is pursuing a Master’s of Art in Political Science. With his Boren Fellowship he will take part in the Africa Flagship Language Initiative program and study Portuguese at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique.
As a student at Carolina, Duque focused on linguistics and security studies. He received a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) scholarship to study Portuguese from the Center for European Studies in January, 2018 and later received a FLAS fellowship for graduate studies from the Center for Global Initiatives for the 2018-2019 academic year. He is a former Triangle Institute for Security Studies scholar and served as Vice President for European Horizons.
Hepburn, 23, from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is the son of Winthrop Brent and Anita Hepburn. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree with distinction in mathematics and philosophy. Hepburn is currently a graduate student in UNC-Chapel Hill’s global studies program in the Russian, Eurasian and East European concentration. He plans to use his Boren Fellowship to study Polish and economics at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, during the summer of 2019 and to study economics and Polish language, history and literature at Warsaw University in the fall.
At USC, Hepburn was the recipient of a President’s Award, the Distinguished Senior Award and the philosophy department’s Tait Scholarship, among others. In 2017, the U.S. Department of State awarded Hepburn the Gilman Scholarship to study in Budapest, Hungary. He has worked as an intern with the Budapest Institute in Hungary, analyzing documents on labor policy and social services in Central Europe. While at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Bruno Kessler Foundation in Trento, Italy, selected Hepburn to study fundamentals and methods for impact evaluation of public policies.
Muller, 20, from Charlotte, is the daughter of Fred and Lourdes Muller. She is currently a third-year student at Carolina majoring in peace, war and defense and Chinese and minoring in global cinema studies. She plans to use her Boren Scholarship to study Mandarin with the CET Harbin study abroad program in Harbin, China.
While at UNC-Chapel Hill, Muller has volunteered as a Chinese translator at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill and worked as a resident computing consultant at ResNet and an office assistant at the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life. She currently serves as the president of St. Anthony’s, the co-ed arts and literature fraternity, and is a contributor to the Carolina Political Review.
*At the time of original publication, Devin Duque was an alternate. On May 13th, he was upgraded from an alternate David L. Boren Scholarship winner to an awardee.
Meredith Emery, a third-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a major in studio art and a minor in geography, was recently selected for the prestigious Beinecke Scholarship. Emery will graduate in December 2019 and hopes to earn an interdisciplinary MFA with a focus in sculpture to allow her to continue to represent local landscapes of personal significance and public resonance.
The Beinecke Scholarship, a program of The Sperry Fund, recognized Emery’s impressive achievements with a $34,000 award to attend graduate school in the arts, humanities or social sciences. She is one of 18 students nationwide to win the award, selected from a pool of 90 nominees. Emery is UNC-Chapel Hill’s seventh Beinecke Scholar.
Emery, from Charlotte, has already had many solo and group exhibitions featuring her artwork, including “Forward Together, Not One Step Back” at the Alumni Sculpture Garden outside Hanes Art Center, “Among Our Trees: Ring Studies” at the North Carolina Botanical Garden and “Into the Archives” at the Patti and Rusty Rueff Galleries at Purdue University.
“I am incredibly thankful to the Beinecke selection committee for believing in me and the arts,” Emery said. “I look forward to working with the program in the upcoming years, and continuing to make art that unites people in empathetic and truth-seeking conversations.”
Emery’s artistic work and research calls the public to participate in close observation and conversation about the interconnectivity of built environments. In the last year, she completed the “Chapel Hill North Carolina Stream Project,” a photo-ceramic series now exhibiting at the UNC Institute for the Environment. This project was executed in partnership with the Carbonshed Lab at Carolina, a research team investigating the cycling of nutrients in Chapel Hill watersheds.
Outside the classroom, Emery serves as the undergraduate attorney general staff counsel for the Undergraduate Honor Court. She has also facilitated art projects and art therapy for patients and their family members as a Carolina ArtHeels UNC Hospitals volunteer and led the curation and exhibition of student artwork at UNC-Chapel Hill’s SAMple Gallery.
“Meredith is a shining star who combines her academic research and talent for art and sculpting with her passion for communicating about challenging social issues of our times,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “Meredith’s accomplishments also demonstrate how a ‘synergy unleashed’ approach to higher education – bringing together the arts, humanities and sciences – can create powerful ways to communicate complicated subjects with diverse audiences. Thanks to this opportunity, I know we will hear more about Meredith in the years to come as she employs artistic expression to take on the grand challenges of our time.”
A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Honors Carolina, Emery has won multiple awards for her research and artwork, including the Alexander Julian Prize, given to a studio art major whose work exhibits a high standard of design, and the Jonathan E. Sharpe Scholarship, intended to allow a studio art major to undertake work that would not otherwise be financially possible. She plans to continue her research and creative work in graduate school, using a multimedia hybrid to reflect the growing influence of technology on social and environmental issues.
“Meredith has shown an unusual ability to combine research on the environment with her talents in the fine arts,” said Inger Brodey, director of Carolina’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “She is called to create public art that elicits conversation among people who might otherwise feel polarized by political or environmental issues.”
The Beinecke Scholarship Program was established in 1971 by The Sperry and Hutchinson Company board of directors to honor Edwin, Frederick and Walter Beinecke. The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Since 1975, the program has selected more than 646 college juniors from more than 110 different undergraduate institutions for support during graduate study at any accredited university.
Read more about the Beinecke Scholarship here.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumna Sandy Alkoutami has been selected for the elite James C. Gaither Junior Fellows program run by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is UNC-Chapel Hill’s third recipient of this one-year award. The Junior Fellows program provides substantive work experience at the Carnegie Endowment for students and recent graduates with career interests in international affairs.
Alkoutami, 22, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in public policy and economics and a minor in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. She is the daughter of Ghassan and Rana Alkoutami of Hickory.
“Sandy is a perfect example of the next generation of innovative researchers and problem solvers who will make an impact on a global scale,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “Being selected as a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is an incredible opportunity for Sandy to advance her research as she works alongside the endowment’s senior associates in the Middle East Program. I believe the work experience she gains, and the life-long contacts she makes, will help advance critical international peace initiatives that will make a lasting and positive impact on our world.”
Alkoutami is one of only 11 fellows selected for the prestigious Junior Fellows program. She will work full time at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C., as a paid research assistant to the endowment’s senior associates in the Middle East Program.
“I am beyond thrilled to work with scholars in the Middle East Program and contribute to research on a region so deeply important to me,” Alkoutami said. “I could not have achieved this accomplishment without the endless support from UNC-Chapel Hill. My studies and experiences while a student at UNC-Chapel Hill have led me to pursue critical issues facing the Middle East — I can’t wait to continue this work as a Junior Fellow.”
At Carolina, Alkoutami was a Morehead-Cain Scholarship recipient and Phi Beta Kappa inductee. She graduated with highest distinction and was awarded honors for her public policy senior thesis “Understanding Insurgent Behaviors: The Effect of External Support on Insurgent Violence in Civil Conflicts.” During her time at UNC-Chapel Hill, she served as a student foreign service intern for the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy of Lebanon, a legislative intern with the House Judiciary Committee and a student federal service intern at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. Since graduating, Alkoutami has been serving as an English teaching assistant at the Islamic Educational College in Amman, Jordan, while interning with the refugee resettlement agency Questscope under a J. William Fulbright Scholarship.
Professor Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, said, “We feel confident that Sandy has a bright future in Middle East relations. A Syrian-American, Sandy brings language skills, cultural understanding, on-the-ground experience, keen analytic ability and many other traits to the study of this important region of the world.”
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the world’s leading think tanks specializing in international affairs, conducts programs of research, discussion, publication and education in international relations and U.S. foreign policy. Each year the endowment offers approximately 10 to 15 one-year fellowships to uniquely qualified graduating seniors and individuals who have graduated during the past academic year. The program was recently named in honor of Jim Gaither, the former chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Carnegie Endowment. Junior Fellows receive a monthly salary equivalent to $38,000 annually and a generous benefits package.
Read more about the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program here.
(Chapel Hill, N.C.— March 5, 2019) – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumna Kelly McFarlane has been awarded a Knight-Hennessy Scholarship, which fully funds graduate-level work in any field at Stanford University. McFarlane is one of 68 scholars in the program’s second cohort selected from over 4,400 applicants from around the world.
“At Carolina, Kelly inspired everyone she met by her example of selfless service, academic success and athletic performance. She was the perfect example of a team player, ranging from NCAA soccer fields to working with underrepresented high school students,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “It’s wonderful to see Kelly selected for this scholarship program. Thanks to this opportunity – combined with her entrepreneurial drive and dedication to helping others – I have no doubt we will continue to hear about Kelly’s accomplishments that are focused on changing and improving our world.”
McFarlane, 26, is the daughter of Craig and Marilou McFarlane and is from Mill Valley, California. She graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in public health from the health policy and management department and a chemistry minor.
McFarlane was a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the highest honorary society at UNC-Chapel Hill. She also volunteered with Carolina Outreach as team representative for the UNC Athletics’ community service organization.
A gifted athlete, McFarlane was a women’s varsity soccer team member and team captain her senior year. She won the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Weaver-James-Corrigan Award, a postgraduate scholarship awarded by the ACC to student-athletes from each member school who have performed with distinction in both the classroom and their respective sport, while also demonstrating exemplary conduct in the community.
After graduating, McFarlane played professional soccer for the Houston Dash before joining Huron Consulting Group Inc. in San Francisco as a healthcare analyst. She was admitted to Harvard Medical School in 2016, where she has been co-president of the Association of Women Surgeons and has worked on clinical and quality improvement research in orthopedics. She has also worked with Crimson Care Collaborative, a student-faculty collaborative practice created to increase access to primary care services in the greater Boston area. She will take time out from her studies at Harvard to begin pursuing her MBA as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar this fall.
“I am honored to have been selected to be a Knight-Hennessy Scholar,” McFarlane said. “Challenging myself to think differently, push boundaries and leave my comfort zone are things I learned at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford fosters this growth by providing an incredible opportunity to work with and learn from a diverse class of scholars from all over the world. I am so grateful for my time at Carolina and all the wonderful professors, coaches, mentors, teammates and friends who made a lasting impact on my life.”
The Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program is named for Philip H. Knight, a Stanford alumnus and co-founder of Nike Inc., and Stanford’s 10th president, John L. Hennessy. With a $750 million endowment, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is the largest fully endowed graduate fellowship in the world. The program is designed to build a multidisciplinary community of Stanford graduate students dedicated to finding creative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. In addition to fully funding scholars’ tuition and living expenses, it also offers leadership development, individualized mentorship and experiential learning opportunities.
Professor Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, said, “We are so pleased that Kelly will be the second Carolina student to win the Knight-Hennessy. She will join Sasha Seymore, a member of the inaugural Knight-Hennessy cohort. Kelly is an exemplary scholar-athlete and citizen. She represents the many kinds of excellence to be found at Carolina.”
Learn more about the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship and UNC’s endorsement process here.
Scott Emmons, a fourth-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named a recipient of the prestigious Churchill Scholarship, a research-focused award that provides funding to outstanding American students for a year of master’s degree study in science, mathematics and engineering at Churchill College, based at the University of Cambridge in England.
Emmons is one of only 16 students and recent graduates selected for the award this year, which not only requires exemplary academic achievement but also seeks those with proven talent in research, extensive laboratory experience and personal activities outside of academic pursuits, especially in music, athletics and social service. He is Carolina’s 18th Churchill Scholar.
Emmons, 22, is a senior from Bloomington, Indiana, majoring in computer science and mathematics in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is a Robertson Scholar, a Goldwater Scholar and an Honors Carolina student.
At Carolina, Emmons has focused on unsupervised machine learning in the field of network science, leveraging mathematics to enable users to guide community detection algorithms. Collaborating with researchers at Duke through the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, he has also developed artificial intelligence algorithms for robotic motion planning.
Emmons has dedicated his summers to volunteer teaching. He has taught mathematics to middle school students in the Mississippi Delta at the Sunflower County Freedom Project and he has mentored students in mathematics, physics and computer science in Tamil Nadu, India, at the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project.
At Cambridge, Emmons plans to study how to align machine intelligence with human values. His long-term goal is for society to realize the extraordinarily beneficial opportunities of machine intelligence such as safe, efficient transportation and effective, low-cost medical care while overcoming their associated challenges.
“Scott is one of the most admirable and prolific students I’ve encountered at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has already published four papers in peer-reviewed journals and is poised to become a leader at the intersection of mathematics, computer science and the ethics of artificial intelligence in the future. The UNC-Chapel Hill community can be very proud to be represented by Scott as a Churchill Scholar,” said Inger Brodey, director of Carolina’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships.
The Churchill Scholarship started in 1963 with three awards and has since grown to an average of 14 awards. The scholarship was set up at the request of Sir Winston Churchill in order to fulfill his vision of U.S.-U.K. scientific exchange with the goal of advancing science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, helping to ensure our future prosperity and security. There have now been approximately 500 Churchill Scholars.
Learn more about the Churchill Scholarship here.
Fourth year student in Peace, War & Defense and Public Policy Jessica Chen has won the SciencesPo American Foundation Scholarship in conjunction with the Michel David-Weill Scholarship.
Read more here.
Andrew Pendergast, a third-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was recently selected for the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. Pendergast, who is pursuing a major in chemistry, hopes to earn a doctorate of philosophy in analytical chemistry and ultimately establish a fundamental interdisciplinary electrochemistry group to continue the study of nanoparticles, small atomic clusters and single atoms in the context of renewable energy conversion reactions.Pendergast, 20, from Waxhaw, is one of 496 students nationwide to win the award, selected from a pool of 1,223 candidates nominated by their universities. Pendergast is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 48th Goldwater Scholar. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board.“I am honored to have been selected as a Goldwater Scholar and to continue my research experience at UNC-Chapel Hill with the support of this foundation.” Pendergast said. “I am grateful for the support I have received at Carolina through the chemistry department, the Office of Distinguished Scholarships and from my coworkers in the lab of professor Jeffrey Dick. I look forward to representing Carolina and the Goldwater Foundation through my scientific pursuits to apply electrochemistry at the single atom scale to these renewable energy needs over the upcoming years.”Pendergast’s research is focused on fundamental and applied electrochemistry at the interface of nanoparticle fabrication, alloy electrocatalysis, and single atom and atomic cluster detection. Andrew previously worked in the lab of professor Matthew Lockett, exploring 3D-paper-based tumor co-cultures and wetting dynamics of modified paper materials, and in the lab of research associate professor Matthew Champion at the University of Notre Dame last summer, producing several publications from these experiences. Andrew is a Colonel Robinson Scholar and has been involved in UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, a professional chemistry fraternity, since his first year. Pendergast received a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate Fellowship for his work at Notre Dame.“Andrew is a standout student whose innovative work will transcend our own understanding of the world’s makeup, while preparing for its future,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “Thanks to this Goldwater Scholarship opportunity, I am confident he will continue his passion for analytical chemistry and inspire others to see beyond the limits of what is possible in their own research.”Outside the classroom and lab, Pendergast works as a middle school science outreach organizer to develop educational lectures, demonstrations and programming for East Rutherford Middle School. He also translates his chemistry knowledge to the kitchen with an interest in scientific gastronomy.Professor Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, said, “We are delighted that Andrew has received this great honor for his promise as a scientific researcher. Andrew is not only a great researcher, he also excels at and enjoys communicating his love of science to others and in other areas of his life.”The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. It is considered one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships in natural sciences, mathematics and engineering in America and is meant to prepare students for careers in research.
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UNC HAS PRODUCED
51 RHODES SCHOLARS
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