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Abigail Hickman CC’21 receives prestigious Mitchell Scholarship

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Abigail Hickman CC’21, an anthropology major with a concentration in Native American studies from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has been selected as one of 12 recipients of the prestigious George J. Mitchell Scholarship.

Mitchell Scholarships provide one year of postgraduate study in an Irish university in either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. Hickman will pursue an M.A. in English at the University of Limerick.

“I’ve always been someone who aspires for an academic and creative career,” said Hickman. “I believe that my studies at the University of Limerick will give me an advantage when applying for a Ph.D. in English or Indigenous studies.

“I also believe that access to Irish academics and scholarship will give my research a global scope,” said Hickman. “Rather than just thinking with Indigenous folks from North America, I will be prepared to consider colonialism and its ramifications internationally.”

Hickman has been deeply involved with the Indigenous student community at Columbia. She has served on the planning committee for Native American Heritage Month, was the community coordinator for Manhattan House (a special interest living community) and is currently the co-president of Native American Council.

“Everything I’ve done on campus has been to better the lives of its Indigenous students,” said Hickman. “I know that those who come after me will continue the work that I’ve begun, such as securing a dedicated space on campus for Indigenous students and receiving university-wide recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“I have been proud to represent Columbia’s Indigenous student community throughout my undergraduate career, and I will continue to do so even after graduation,” she said.

"Abigail's scholarly interests in indigenous studies are matched by her advocacy for the Native American community, which has, in turn, enriched our community here at Columbia," said Ariella Lang, associate dean of Academic Affairs and director of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. "As a Mitchell Scholar, Abigail plans to continue this engagement by investigating the intersection of Irish and Indigenous literary traditions. I am excited to see where this research will take her."

The Mitchell Scholarship Program, named to honor former U.S. Senator George Mitchell’s pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process, 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. Applicants, who must be between 18 and 30, are judged on their scholarship, leadership and sustained commitment to community and public service. Only four percent of candidates are accepted into the program.

The scholarship is the flagship project of the nonprofit U.S.-Ireland Alliance, founded in 1998 by Trina Vargo, a former foreign policy adviser to Senator Ted Kennedy who was also heavily involved in the Northern Ireland peace process. The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides tuition, room and board, travel expenses and a living stipend.

Past Columbia College winners of the Mitchell Scholarship include 2019 winner Daniel Driscoll CC’20, who is currently pursuing an M.Phil. in early modern history at Trinity College Dublin; Kara Schechtman CC’19, a 2018 winner who pursued an M. Phil. in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin; Daniel Listwa CC’15, a 2014 winner who pursued an M.A. in philosophy and public affairs at University College Dublin; and Lillian Jin CC’13, a 2013 winner who studied public health and University College of Dublin.

Current students and recent alumni interested in applying for the Mitchell Scholarship can reach out to Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.

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