Mona Lotfipour ’12, a biochemistry and molecular biology and special studies major at Franklin & Marshall College, has received a prestigious George J. Mitchell Scholarship for a year of postgraduate study in Ireland during the 2012-13 academic year.
Lotfipour is one of 12 Mitchell Scholars selected from a pool of 300 applicants, joining recipients from Harvard University, Stanford University, and Amherst College, among other institutions. She is one of only three current undergraduates to receive a Mitchell Scholarship, and will study Equality Studies at University College Dublin. Lotfipour is also a recipient of F&M's prestigious Rouse Scholarship, which is awarded to Franklin & Marshall students who have achieved academic excellence while demonstrating unusual leadership.
“I was really surprised and humbled when they called to tell me the news,” Lotfipour says. “The Mitchell Scholars are such a wonderful community. I’ve received dozens of emails from previous scholars offering their support and advice.”
The Mitchell Scholarship was created in 2001 in honor of Sen. Mitchell’s role as chairman of the Northern Ireland peace talks. It is designed to introduce and connect generations of future American leaders to Ireland while recognizing and fostering intellectual achievement, leadership and a commitment to community and public service.
Monica Cable, director of postgraduate fellowships and adjunct assistant professor of anthropology, encouraged Lotfipour to apply for the award. Cable has also helped several other students in their successful bids for international awards over the past year.
"The level of competition for the Mitchell Scholarship is extremely high, and we're proud of Mona for becoming the first winner from F&M," Cable says. "Her work inside and outside the classroom is truly impressive."
Lotfipour also received encouragement from President Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D. “I hadn't really thought a lot about international fellowships until Professor Cable and President Porterfield encouraged me to apply,” she says. “I felt a great deal of support from the entire F&M community throughout my application process.”
Lotfipour has made significant contributions inside and outside the classroom, from two Hackman summer scholarships to a growing list of community-service initiatives she has either introduced or helped to develop. As a sophomore she founded F&M’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), in which 75 students helped more than 320 low-income families realize nearly $600,000 in tax credits last spring. She also launched The ONE Goal initiative, a program that uses soccer as a tool for public health education in Khayelitsha Township, South Africa.
Lotfipour, who moved to the U.S. with her family from Iran at age 7, eventually hopes to earn a medical degree and work with leaders in conflict regions to create sustainable health clinics.
“My goal is to become a physician in places that need it the most, and that usually means working in regions of conflict,” Lotfipour says. “Given its history, Ireland is an ideal place to learn about communities achieving peace. I want to work with organizations that were involved in the peace process.”
To read more about Lotfipour, see a previous feature in The Diplomat.
Updated Feb. 20, 2012