Fatoumata Keita ’16 has received a prestigious George J. Mitchell Scholarship, which provides a year of postgraduate study in Ireland. Keita, who majored in government and business, organizations & society at Franklin & Marshall, will spend the 2018-19 academic year pursuing a master’s degree in gender and women’s studies at Trinity College Dublin.
“I am truly humbled to receive this scholarship; for me it is another reminder that anything is possible with determination and the right support,” said Keita upon learning she had been selected after a rigorous interview process. “I’m grateful to my professors, Director of Fellowships Monica Cable, and all who supported me at F&M. I’m honored to represent the College among this year’s cohort of Mitchell Scholars and look forward to what I know will be many wonderful experiences in Ireland.”
Keita is one of 12 Mitchell Scholars selected for an award that traditionally attracts 300 or more applicants. The scholarships are awarded annually by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance and were created to introduce and connect future American leaders to Ireland while recognizing and fostering intellectual achievement, leadership and a commitment to community and public service. They honor the longtime U.S. senator from Maine, who served as the Senate majority leader from 1989 to 1995 and was chairman of the Northern Ireland peace talks, which resulted in the 1998 Good Friday agreement.
Together with the Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, and Gates Scholarship, the Mitchell Scholarship is generally considered among the four most competitive international fellowships for American students.
Keita received a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy in 2015 and now works as a philanthropy associate at Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York City. She is a native of the West African country of Guinea who moved to the Bronx when she was 13, and she is the first F&M Mitchell Scholar since Mona Loftipour ’12. Loftipour studied equality studies at University College Dublin in 2012-13.
“The entire F&M community is proud of Fatou,” said Franklin & Marshall President Daniel R. Porterfield. “She earned enormous faculty respect for her curiosity and precision of thought. She is a stunning young leader and a force of nature driven to serve society. It’s easy to see her becoming a scholar, judge, diplomat, or head of an international organization. She has that kind of will, mind, heart and spine. She’s a young woman of exquisite talent and moral seriousness, and a perfect fit for the Mitchell Scholarship.”
Added Bryan Stinchfield, associate professor of organization studies and don of Brooks College House, who was among several faculty members recommending Keita for the Mitchell, “Fatou’s wonderful personality, her can-do attitude, sense of fairness, and commitment to improving the lives of everyone around her immediately earned her the respect of her peers. As a former U.S. Army officer, I recognized these traits, and knew what they meant – Fatou is a natural leader with an internal compass. A common thread has run through her academic, extracurricular and professional experiences, which is that Fatou is driven to use all of her energy and skills to help society through service.”
Keita was frequently recognized for her leadership as an F&M student. She received the Rouse Scholarship, given annually to two students who have demonstrated unusual leadership while achieving academic excellence. She also was president of the Muslim Students Association and a member of both the John Marshall Pre-Law Honor Society and Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society.
Keita capped her campus career by earning the Maj. Dick Winters ’41 Award, given each year to a student who exhibits the strength of character, the quality of perseverance and the skill of leadership that defined Winters. He commanded E “Easy” Company of the 101st Airborne Division on D-Day and led the assault on German artillery firing on Utah Beach, making it possible for Allied forces to move inland. His courage was featured in the 1992 Stephen Ambrose book, “Band of Brothers,” which later was made into an HBO miniseries.