Makayla Haussler ’19 and Rohan Naik ’18 were among the 12 students who received the Mitchell Scholarship this year, according to a Nov. 17 announcement on the program’s website.
The award — a grant that covers one year of graduate study in Ireland or Northern Ireland — celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The scholarship was designed to connect future American leaders with the island of Ireland, according to its website. Aside from tuition, the program provides funding for housing and a stipend for living expenses and travel. According to its website, 370 applicants applied for the prestigious fellowship, marking an almost 14 percent increase from last year and an almost 30 percent increase from five years ago. The Scholarship was named after Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, for his contributions to the peace process in Northern Ireland in the 1990s.
“We’re delighted that seven outstanding Yale undergraduates have been recipients Mitchell Scholarships over the past 20 years and several Mitchell alumni have gone on to further study at Yale. It’s been a great two-way relationship,” said Trina Vargo, the founder of the program and the president of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance — a nonprofit which works to develop and strengthen relations between the two nations.
Director of the Mitchell Scholarship Carolina Chavez told the News that Haussler and Naik “embody the values of the Mitchell Scholarship,” namely “academic excellence, leadership and public service.” She said she expects the year in Ireland to “inspire them and further fuel their trajectory as young leaders.”
Haussler, who was also named a Truman Scholar last April, studies political science at Yale. During her time at the University, she interned at Planned Parenthood, worked on legislative advocacy and communications policy for the Yale College Democrats and was the treasurer of Hacibey Catalbasoglu’s ’19 campaign for Ward 1 alder in New Haven.
“I’m eager to start my [master’s degree in] gender studies at [University College, Dublin] and dive into my research on reproductive rights and abortion politics,” Haussler said. “These issues are so important as they’re an integral part of any meaningful movement toward social justice and a more equitable society, so I am looking forward to using Ireland’s example as a lens through which I can grapple with the political strategy surrounding them.”
Naik, a history major who graduated from Yale earlier this year, was a peer liaison for the Asian American Cultural Center at Yale and wrote for the News and the New Haven Independent. He has also reported on air pollution in London for the Pulitzer Center and on hate crimes for ProPublica. In New Haven, Naik founded a gun buyback program in collaboration with the city. He currently works on a documentary series on the 14th amendment, which is set to air on Netflix.
Naik will study public history at Queen’s University Belfast.
“I am really excited and humbled to have been awarded a Mitchell Scholarship,” he said. “I have never been to Ireland or Northern Ireland, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to live and learn in Belfast for a year. Studying public history at Queen’s University Belfast, while furthering my interest in journalism and law, is an extremely rare opportunity.”
Mitchell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999 for his work on the Northern Ireland peace negotiations.
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