The 12 George J. Mitchell Scholars for the Class of 2025 have been selected. The announcement of the new cohort was made Monday by the US-Ireland Alliance, which conducts the selection process. The scholars will begin their studies in September 2024.
Despite a relatively short history (the first scholars were named in 2001), the Mitchell Scholarship has become one of the country’s most prestigious postgraduate awards. This year about 350 applicants competed for the 12 scholarships, which cover educational expenses for a year of graduate study – including all tuition, room and board and a monthly stipend to cover living expenses – at one of several participating universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Named in honor of former U.S. Senator George Mitchell for his crucial contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process, the scholarship is “designed to introduce and connect generations of future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while recognizing and fostering intellectual achievement, leadership, and a commitment to community and public service.”
Trina Vargo, the founder of the program and the president of the US-Ireland Alliance, noted that “this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Alliance, the scholarship program, and the Good Friday peace agreement. That agreement was chaired by Senator Mitchell.” Vargo had been employed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy and served as his foreign policy adviser during the critical years of the Northern Ireland peace process.
Eligible candidates must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 and have completed or be completing their undergraduate degree. Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit, demonstrated leadership and a commitment to community and public service. Applicants go through a lengthy review process before their final selection by a committee, many members of which are Mitchell alumni.
The Mitchell Scholars For 2025
Tyler Bartolome is a senior at Drake University with four majors – biochemistry, cell and molecular biology; mathematics; biology; and chemistry. He is also the founder and president of the Oral Record Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that collects and curates oral histories of individuals who’ve experienced military conflict. Tyler plans to study biotechnology at University College Cork.
Sam Bisno is a senior at Princeton University, where he studies history. He is the recipient of the Carter Combe Prize for the best junior-year independent work in history at Princeton. Sam also is Editor-in-Chief of the Princeton Historical Review and Editor-in-Chief of The Nassau Weekly. Sam will study history at Queen’s University Belfast.
A senior at the University of Alabama, Anika Cho, is studying electrical engineering and physics. She is interested in developing acoustic technologies for oceanic exploration. Anika will study electrical & electronic engineering at University College Cork.
Anna Clark is a senior at Stanford University pursuing a BS in engineering physics and a MSc in management science & engineering. She is the president of the Stanford Energy Club, which connects students to energy careers and research. Anna will study smart and sustainable cities at Trinity College Dublin.
Owen Emerson is a senior at the University of Alabama studying economics. A guitarist and singer-songwriter, he wants to become a documentarian and educator of Appalachian-Irish musical heritage. Owen plans to study music and media technologies at Trinity College Dublin.
Thomas “Tommy” Hagan earned a BA in philosophy from the University of Chicago. For the past decade, he has entered prisons and jails on a weekly basis to build community with incarcerated people. Interested in comparing prison systems, Tommy will study peace and conflict studies at Ulster University.
A recent graduate of Duke University, Christopher Kuo majored in political science and English. Currently, he is a Reporting Fellow on the culture desk at the New York Times. Chris will study journalism at the University of Limerick.
Elizaveta “Lisa” Maslovskaya is a senior at the University of Oklahoma studying creative media production and French. An immigrant from Russia, Lisa is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who filmed Hurricane Ian in Florida where she and her team focused on journalists and meteorologists who continued reporting the news throughout the storm. Lisa will study documentary practice at Dublin City University.
Chloe Nguyen is a senior at Duke University majoring in public policy with a minor in psychology. She is the founder of the Duke Justice Project, a club addressing mass incarceration and improving re-entry in North Carolina. Chloe plans to study digital policy at University College Dublin.
After earning her undergraduate degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College, Isabel Plakas is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She’s the recipient of a Nursing Scholar Award from the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and was recognized by the Boston Medical Center for building harm reduction programming at a shelter site that also served as a 24/7 overdose monitoring unit. Isabel will study study addiction recovery at Trinity College Dublin.
Kiera Sky Torpie graduated from Tulane University with a degree in linguistics and international development. Her relationship with her incarcerated father was significantly influenced by their letters. Based on that experience, she created a workshop at Tulane for girls whose families had been impacted by incarceration, and last summer, she took her play, Sunny Makes a Scene, to the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh. Kiera will study creative writing at Queen’s University Belfast.
Coleman Yorke was an undergraduate at Columbia University where he studied English and psychology, and a Masters’ student at Oxford University focusing on clinical and therapeutic neuroscience. He currently lives in South Korea, where as a Luce Scholar, he’s working in a lab at Yonsei University focusing on adolescent mental healthcare. Coleman will study global mental health at Trinity College Dublin.
George Mitchell Program Funding
At the beginning of the program, the U.S. State Department provided $485,000 in annual funding. After that ended around 2012, Ireland’s Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science picked up the ball and continues to provide yearly support.
Over the years, a number of individuals and foundations have also provided additional funding, including Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, the O’Sullivan Foundation, the Pritzker Foundation, Michael Hackman of The MBS Group and Hackman Capital, and Strong Roots. Almost 80% of program alumni make financial contributions as well.
Unlike many other prestigious scholarships – think Rhodes, Gates, Schwarzman – the Mitchell Scholarship was started and continues to operate without a supporting endowment. Vargo has written about the need to find a philanthropist, company or governmental entity to underwrite the scholarship so that it and the good will it generates can be sustained.
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