Students Win Several Leading Fellowships

Monday, April 21, 2008

College students were well-represented among the winners of several national and international fellowships.

Sarracina Littlebird ’09 and Nhu-Y Ngo ’09 received Truman Scholarships, awarded by The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation to students planning to pursue careers in public service. Each will receive scholarships worth $30,000 to be used for graduate study. Truman Scholars are expected to work in the public sector for at least three years after the completion of their graduate education.

This year, 65 students from 55 U.S. colleges and universities were selected from among 595 candidates nominated by 283 colleges and universities.

Littlebird, an environmental biology major from Sante Fe, N.M., plans to use the scholarship to pay for law school. She intends to return to her home to advocate for Native American rights, including education, land management and water use. Ngo, a history and political science major from Lincoln, Neb., plans to pursue a law degree and a master’s of public policy in order to fight for immigrant rights, with a focus on language access.

Columbia has not had more than one winner in a single year since 2003. “We had an excellent crop of candidates this year,” said Michael Pippenger, associate dean of fellowship programs and study abroad at Columbia. “Their passion for being agents of change really shone through.”

Mollie Schwarz ’09 and Swarup Swaminathan ’09 received Goldwater Scholarships, which cover eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 annually, for students who plan to pursue a Ph.D. in the sciences or mathematics. Each university may nominate four candidates for consideration at the national level; 321 were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. 

Schwarz, a Danville, Pa., native, is majoring in chemical physics. She seeks to pursue a Ph.D. in physics with a focus on experimental research in fluid dynamics. A native of Howell, N.J., Swaminathan is majoring in biochemistry and seeks to pursue an M.D./Ph.D., with the Ph.D. in protein biochemistry/molecular biophysics.

Matthew Birkhold ’08 was awarded a DAAD [German Academic Exchange Service] Study Scholarship, facilitating graduate studies in Germany. The scholarship provides full funding for a graduate degree at a German university as well as a monthly living stipend.

A native of Stillwater, Minn., Birkhold is majoring in German literature and cultural history with a concentration in art history.  He seeks to combine these fields and to become a professor of German art history.

Two other Columbia undergraduates also received honors. Catherine MacLellan ’09 Barnard also won Truman Scholarship and Lisa Chen ’08E won a DAAD Study Scholarship.

Columbia also has 19 finalists in the Fulbright Scholar Program, according to Pippenger, who said the winners were expected to be named in May.

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