Major Fellowship Success Continues

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College students have amassed another impressive set of scholarship awards so far this academic year, earning five Fulbrights, two National Security Education Program fellowships, a Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies and a National Science Foundation fellowship.

The total also includes the University's first Marshall Scholarship recipient in over 30 years, Broderick Bagert '98, who will pursue graduate studies at Oxford University in England this fall.

University administrators say this year's awards show BC is enjoying continued success in its efforts to prepare students to compete for prestigious fellowships.

"These are remarkable achievements, by the students and the faculty members who provided them with assistance," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties David Burgess. "It is clear we are attracting and graduating some of the best students in the country."

"Boston College decided that this was a direction it wanted to go in and the results are very encouraging," said Prof. Donald Hafner (Political Science), director of the University's Fellowship Program. "When you have someone crossing the threshold of a Mellon or Marshall program, it shows BC has outstanding, talented students who stack up well with their peers from other top colleges and universities."

Three of the five students earning Fulbright Fellowships, which provide a year's support for study or research abroad, will head to Germany: David Giles '99, a philosophy major, plans to examine the public debate over the Berlin Holocaust Memorial; Theodore Kalmbach '99, an international studies major, is studying the decline of Germany's hard coal industry and the question of whether China presents a feasible market for this resource; and political science major Maria Stephan '99 will undertake a project on the relationship between German and European Union foreign policy.

The other Fulbright recipients are Alex Isbell '00, a political science major who will travel to Finland to analyze that country's modern nationalism; and philosophy student Sarah Martin '99, who will be in Belgium studying theology and interculturalism in bioethics.

In addition, Kefryn Block '99 - a Spanish major who plans a project on contemporary Cuban exile literature in Spain - has been designated an alternate Fulbright recipient, and three other Fulbright finalists from BC are awaiting decisions on their applications.

English major Tristan Kirvin '99 was one of 98 students nationwide to win a Mellon Fellowship, which helps defray the costs of the first year of graduate study in the humanities. Kirvin, who competed with nearly 800 of the country's top humanities students, will enroll in the New York University doctoral program in American history.

The National Security Education Program fellowships, which give students the opportunity to study language and culture in a non-Western setting for one year, are relatively new but increasingly coveted, according to Center for International Programs Director Marian St. Onge. John Paul Yorro '01, an international studies major, will utilize his NSEP fellowship to study Balkan language and social and political history, first at an institute in London and then Sofia University in Bulgaria.

English and linguistics major Sara Davidson '00, the other NSEP recipient, plans to study modern Polish at Jagiellonian University in Cracow, then New Testament Greek and medieval Polish at another, still undetermined institution.

Hafner noted that in recent years BC students have been successful in obtaining more than one fellowship, citing Emily Hack '99, a biochemistry major who earned a National Science Foundation fellowship after winning a Goldwater Scholarship in her sophomore year. With the fellowship, which provides a stipend and pays for part of tuition, Hack will pursue a doctorate in immunology at Harvard University.

"When you go through the process for one award, you often find it prepares you very well for another," said Hafner, adding that Fulbright winner Stephan last year had been selected for a Truman Scholarship.

Hafner also credited the University's establishment of internal grant programs, such as Undergraduate Research Fellows, Dean's Scholars and Advanced Study Grants, as helping foster students' pursuit of fellowships.

"Early on in their undergraduate years, students get to see the value in sponsored study and research," he explained, singling out Kirvin and Bagert - recipients of Advanced Study Grants - as examples. "Our hope is that they become motivated to look for more of these opportunities. Moreover, by earning these internal grants they have already identified themselves as potential candidates for fellowships.

"That is what a college needs to do to have success: Find outstanding students and help them go after fellowships," Hafner added. "BC has put a special focus on that and it's beginning to work."

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