Eight Women Named Mitchell Scholars

The George J. Mitchell Scholarships are administered by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance. Winners of these prestigious scholarships are selected to pursue a year of post-graduate study at universities on the island of Ireland. Created more than a decade ago, the scholarship program was named in honor of U.S. Senator George Mitchell’s role as chairman of the Northern Ireland peace talks. The thirteenth class of 12 Mitchell Scholars was chosen from 300 applicants. Eight of the new Mitchell Scholars are women.

(L to R) Rachel Carlson, Katie Dwyer, Kelly Kirkpatrick, Tara Kousha, Mona Lotfipour, Catherine Skroch, Ashleen Williams, and Bessie Young

Rachel Carlson is a native of Battle Ground, Washington. She graduated summa cum laude from Rice University. She has studied the social and ecological impacts of large-scale irrigation schemes in Africa and Southeast Asia, conducted field research in the Indian Himalayas, and spent several months gathering oral histories of environmental change in rural Senegal. She is currently living in West Africa, evaluating the impact of large dams and village-based irrigation in the Senegal River Valley and the Fouta Djallon Highlands. At Rice, she was editor-in-chief of the undergraduate literary magazine and published numerous short stories and poems. She will study environment and development at Trinity College in Dublin.

Katie Dwyer is a graduate student in the conflict and dispute resolution program at the University of Oregon. A native of Colorado, Dwyer graduated from the University of Oregon in 2010 with degrees in sociology and comparative literature. Her focus has been on social justice, particularly involving the rights of immigrants and incarcerated people. She founded a book club for incarcerated youth after participating in university classes offered at the state prison through the Inside-Out program. Dwyer will study at Queen’s University in Belfast and the National University of Ireland in Galway.

Kelly Kirkpatrick grew up in Davis, California.  She graduated with honors from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy in 2009. While at Northwestern, she coordinated a public service fellowship for Northwestern alumni, studied community development in rural Thailand, and worked with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in Chicago and Northern California. After graduation, Kirkpatrick declined a Princeton in Asia fellowship to work in Thailand so that she could be her mother’s caregiver during the final stage of her battle with leukemia. After her mother’s death, she completed a fellowship at the California Environmental Protection Agency and currently works at Olive Grove Consulting, a firm that advises Bay Area nonprofit organizations.  She will study government at University College in Cork.

Tara Kousha, from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, will graduate with honors in May from Rutgers University with a major in English and a minor in economics. As an undergraduate, Kousha has served on the board of Toastmasters International, led campus-wide technology campaigns through the Google Student Ambassador Program, and co-founded a mentorship program for high school students. She also helped to develop community-building and technology programs while working as an intern at Google, the Educational Testing Service, and the Food Network. She will study digital humanities and culture at Trinity College in Dublin.

Mona Lotfipour immigrated to the United States with her family from Iran at the age of 7. As an undergraduate at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, health and human rights. She founded the F&M Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, in which 75 students helped more than 500 low-income families realize more than $800,000 in tax credits. Interested in achieving both sustainable peace and improved health care in rural communities, she hopes to combine an academic background in conflict resolution with a medical degree in order to work with local leaders in conflict regions to create sustainable health clinics.  She will study equality studies at University College in Dublin.

Catherine Skroch is a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Truman National Security Project where her work includes implementing a new Democracy and Human Rights Initiative and managing TNSP’s Nuclear Threat Initiatives. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009 with degrees in peace studies and conflict resolution, she went on to become a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco. She has previously worked in Senegal and Palestine on conflict mitigation, democratization, and peace-building campaigns. She will study international relations at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Ashleen Williams is originally from Snohomish, Washington, and attended the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. She graduated with a degree in political science, and served as the president of the Associated Students of the University of Montana. In addition to her involvement with student government, Williams worked with international students in their adjustment to living in the U.S., and acted as an advocate for the Muslim community in Montana. Ashleen is currently a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Bahrain studying the continuing political reform efforts being made by the Shi’a community.  She also coaches the speech and debate club at the University of Bahrain. She will study peace and conflict studies at the University of Ulster.

Bessie Young graduated summa cum laude with distinction from Amherst College in 2011 as a triple major in psychology, art and the history of art. She is currently a Henry Luce Scholar living in Nishinomiya, Japan, where she is studying aging and long-term care for the elderly at Kwansei Gakuin University. Her photography focuses on the aging environment in differing cultural contexts.  In Japan, she is involved with a bilingual improv comedy group and is a member of a Japanese church with dual Japanese-English services. Bessie spent the past four years studying Turkish, but is now learning Japanese in an effort to better connect with the elderly in Japan. She will study photography at the University of Ulster.

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