April 13, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 15

Fellowship winners (L-R): Nicholas Salter, Kelly McClure and Elizabeth O'Day. (Photos of McClure and O'Day by Lee Pellegrini)

Students Earn Truman, Harriman, NSF Awards

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Boston College's now-annual commemoration of good news on the graduate fellowship front has begun, with three students receiving word in late March that they have earned prestigious awards.

Nicholas Salter '07 has won a Truman Scholarship, awarded to outstanding students who intend to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service and have demonstrated leadership. He is the sixth BC student since 1998 to receive a Truman, among the most competitive graduate scholarships in the United States, with only 70 to 75 given each year.

Kelly McClure, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program majoring in international studies, has become the University's first Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowship winner. Like the Truman, the Harriman Fellowship is intended to inspire and encourage students to enter public service. Only three are awarded each year, but one is reserved for a student at the College of William and Mary.

In addition, Elizabeth O'Day '06 - who after earning Beckman and Goldwater fellowships last year also has added a Winston Churchill Scholarship to study at Cambridge University and a Fulbright grant - was selected for a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Salter, who this academic year is studying at the London School of Economics, said the Truman Scholarship will enable him to further his interest in addressing global poverty through sustainable development. He plans to pursue an interdisciplinary doctoral degree in development studies, one that would incorporate social and natural sciences.

"This interdisciplinary degree would provide me with a broad knowledge of global development issues, beyond the scope of a doctoral degree in economics, and more fully prepare me for a career with a leading development nongovernmental organization," said Salter, a Denver native majoring in economics who has been active in the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, the Global Justice Project, PULSE and the Campus Ministry School of the Americas Watch.

"Because many of the major concerns facing developing countries today involve issues of ecology, climate change, sustainability, gender inequality, health care, and education, the solution must go beyond the scope of economic liberalization."

Salter praised BC Truman Program coordinator Assoc. Prof. Kenji Hayao (Political Science) and Assoc. Prof. Jennie Purnell (Political Science) - who is overseeing the program this year during Hayao's sabbatical - for their assistance.

Purnell, noting that BC was cited in 2003 as a Truman Honor Institution, said the Truman program's goals are in alignment with the University's academic and spiritual ideals.

"The scholarships definitely reward academic achievement and potential, but there is a high premium on one's record of community service and demonstrated leadership," she explained. "That happens to be the kind of student BC seeks: Those who see knowledge not just as an end in and of itself, but a means to work for social justice."

McClure's Harriman award will enable her to spend this summer working in the public and cultural affairs office of the American embassy in Paris, where she will assist in event planning and organization.

"I've always been interested in politics and government, so this is an ideal opportunity for me to get an inside look," said McClure, a Chelmsford native and international studies major with a concentration in political science and a minor in French.

McClure, who interned for US Rep. Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) and whose activities at BC include participating in the For Boston and Appalachian Volunteers programs and teaching an ESL course at a local community center, said she hopes to keep working in the public sector until she attends law school.

"It's very fulfilling to serve your community, your government. BC emphasizes that kind of service with its philosophy of educating the whole person, and I feel grateful for what I've learned here."

Discussing the support and encouragement she received in applying for the award, McClure cited University Fellowships Committee Director Prof. Donald Hafner (Political Science), Prof. Margaret Thomas (Slavic and Eastern Languages) and Mark O'Connor, director of the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, in which she is enrolled. O'Day, after studying next year at Cambridge University via her Churchill Scholarship, will use the National Science Foundation award to pay for three years of graduate studies.

"The NSF grant is a little different than most other fellowships," said O'Day, a biochemistry major who earlier this year organized the first "Women in Science & Technology" program, a series of campus-based workshops to help spark area high school girls' interest in science.

"You're not just rewarded for past achievement. You have to propose an idea for how you might carry out your studies under the grant. So by awarding me this grant, the foundation is saying they really believe I can do something useful and important."

The Braintree native expressed gratitude to "everyone in the Chemistry Department" for helping her pursue her fellowships, singling out professors Evan Kantrowitz and Mary Roberts and chemistry lab coordinator Christine Goldman.

"Faculty are just so important to the whole process of getting fellowships," she said. "It's not only about writing recommendations or talking about what you should put on your application. It's also just the act of sending e-mails saying, ‘Hey, have you heard about this program? You should check it out.' I don't think I could've done it without all the support I've gotten from the department."

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