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Campion Scholars Win Prestigious Awards, Excel in Science Prizes


Despite the ongoing recession and its effect on scholarship foundations, Fordham under­graduates, graduate students and alumni have once again excelled in their yearly effort to win prestigious scholarly prizes and awards.

As of May 17, 125 undergraduate and graduate students have won 143 national and international award competitions. Moreover, for the second year in a row, a Fordham junior has won a Truman Scholarship, the most prestigious American award given to undergraduates for graduate study.

In addition to winning a Truman Scholarship, Abraham Mercado is ranked among Puerto Rico’s top 10 racquetball players.
Photo by Ken Levinson

Abraham Mercado, an international political economy major, is Fordham’s eighth Truman Scholar and its second from Puerto Rico. He began working with the St. Edmund Campion Institute for Prestigious Fellowships in his sophomore year to prepare his application. The $30,000 federal scholarship is awarded annually to between 60 and 65 college juniors who have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to public service.

“Fordham is blessed with students like Abraham Mercado,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University. “Yes, he is the beneficiary of a Fordham education. Yes, he had terrific support from the Office of Prestigious Fellowships. Nonetheless, he would be exceptional in any group of students.”

Mercado’s career plans include securing a position of economic leadership within the United States government—first within the treasury department and later as a political and economic policy leader in Puerto Rico.

In addition, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) junior Cristina Vignone won Fordham’s first Beinecke Scholarship, a $34,000 award for graduate study. With her win, Vignone follows in the footsteps of her brother, Joseph, a senior in FCLC, who won the University’s first Elie Wiesel Prize in 2010 and this year was awarded Fordham’s first Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship. The fellowship pays for full tuition, room, board and income taxes for graduate work done in the United States, and includes a stipend of $18,000 annually.

Their accomplishments have earned the Vignone siblings the well-deserved sobriquet “Fordham’s First Family in Fellowships.”

Fordham’s success in winning science-based prizes this year was particularly noteworthy, according to John Ryle Kezel, Ph.D., director of the Campion Institute. Science awards won by members of the University community include the following:

Their scholarship and fellowship successes have earned siblings Cristina and Joseph Vignone the unofficial title “Fordham’s First Family in Fellowships.”
Photo by Janet Sassi

• Four undergraduate sophomores (rather than the usual two) have been awarded full scholarships from the Clare Boothe Luce Award Program for Women in the Sciences.

• Four graduate students received Luce fellowships in the biological sciences.

• Two juniors in Fordham College at Rose Hill won special Luce scholarships to conduct research.

• Three undergraduates have been awarded eight Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) from the National Science Foundation.

• In addition to the REU, Fordham students received five additional science awards to conduct research at prestigious national universities.

• Four undergraduates were selected by the DAAD RISE award program to conduct science research this summer at German universities.

Finally, Matthew Cashman (FCRH ’10), who will graduate in May with a master of science from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, received the European Commission’s SMART (Science for Management of Rivers and Their Tidal Systems) Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Program Fellowship in its first year.

Cashman’s doctoral studies will be centered at the Queen Mary University of London, with his secondary work at the Freie Universität in Berlin. He worked with the Campion Institute to win a DAAD RISE in 2008 and a Morris K. Udall Scholarship in 2009.

Other highlights of the prestigious scholarship roster include the following:

A recipient of the European Commission’s SMART fellowship, Matthew Cashman won a DAAD RISE in 2008 and a Morris K. Udall Scholarship in 2009.
Photo by Bill Denison

• Nine students won Fulbrights with an additional student named as an alternate.

• Six students received Boren NSEP Awards to study in Europe, Africa and Asia.

• Six students won Gilman Scholarships to study abroad.

• Four students in each competition received U.S. Presidential Management Fellowships, U.S. Department of State internships and Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowships.

• Two undergraduates won a Merage Foundation for the American Dream and a New York City Urban Fellowship.

As Kezel remarked, “This year, together with Maria Noonan, Mary Shelley and Elizabeth Brown, we have done our very best to follow the goal set by our patron, the English Jesuit martyr St. Edmund Campion, who wrote to one of his students, ‘Meritissima virtutis praemia consectare (Attain the prizes your worth deserves).’”


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