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Prestigious Scholarships Focus on American Dream


Thanks to a combination of student talent, faculty experience and administrative expertise, 68 Fordham University students have been awarded external prestigious scholarships and research grants for the upcoming year. Another 39 students will receive Fordham-funded scholarships to work in summer internships or academic endeavors. In all, the students will be traveling to a score of nations all over the globe to work on projects that include an archeological dig in Albania, virology research in Germany, and a study of finance and farm development in Italy’s Mezzogiorno.

Two Fordham seniors were awarded the Merage Foundation’s American Dream scholarships—out of only 14 awarded nationwide. In addition, five Fordham graduate students and two undergraduates earned Fulbright Scholarships to study in China, Bolivia and France, among other places. For the first time since 2002, Fordham also produced a finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

“At Fordham, we have exceptional students,” said John Kezel, Ph.D., director of the University’s Saint Edmund Campion Institute for the Advancement of Academic Excellence, Fordham’s Office of Prestigious Fellowships. “The Campion Institute exists to help our most promising students realize their potential by helping them find opportunities that will showcase their talent and encourage them to apply for national and international fellowships. I know that I speak for my whole staff when I state that our greatest satisfaction comes from assisting young scholars to grow in the confidence that they can indeed achieve great things.”

Fordham College at Lincoln Center seniors Yulia Lapitskaya, a native of Belarus, and Catherine Ruiz-Sandoval, a Colombian native, received $20,000 scholarships from the Merage Foundation, for demonstrating extraordinary promise for achieving the American dream. The Merage Foundation for the American Dream was established by Paul and Lilly Merage, both immigrants to the United States.

Lapitskaya came to the United States from Belarus in 2000, at the age of 14, when her father was granted political asylum following his arrest as a political dissident under the presidency of Alexander Lukashenko. As the only person in her family who spoke English, she bore the weight of assimilation for her parents and sister, an experience she said helped her “very quickly become an adult.” The political science major and member of Phi Beta Kappa is graduating with a 3.94 grade point average and will attend law school in the fall.

Lapitskaya also works part time in a law firm and interns as a constituent services consultant in the office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, interacting primarily with Russian and Polish immigrants. Part of her American dream is to set up a website offering immigrants and underrepresented populations free legal advice.

“Lawyers in Belarus can’t make any difference, but as a lawyer in America, I can make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “When you think of America, you think of justice.”

Ruiz-Sandoval came to the United States with her mother from Colombia when she was three, joining her father who was already here. She is the oldest of three children and the first college graduate in her extended family of almost 50, most of whom still reside in South America.

A double major in political science and Latin American and Latino studies, Ruiz-Sandoval says her American dream “has evolved and evolves as I live.”

She will be heading to graduate school in 2008, after taking a semester off to work with Warfare Child Soldiers, a group that helps combat the drafting of young South American children into guerilla armies. Ruiz-Sandoval has worked for four years in the state attorney general’s office under Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, FCRH ’79, as a consumer fraud mediator while attending Fordham. She has also served on the board of Fordham’s Global Outreach program. “I am as much a domestic thinker as I am an international thinker,” she said.

Other prestigious scholarship recipients include:

Margaret M. Hargrave, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, double major in anthropology and comparative literature, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research on indigenous women and traditional medicines in Bolivia. Hargrave has been active in both Global Outreach and the Student Global AIDS Campaign.

Junior Marc Tambini, a biological sciences major at Fordham College at Rose Hill, has been awarded a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst Research Internship for Science & Engineering Students to conduct laboratory research in virology at Hannover Medical School in Germany. Tambini has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Anna Kruyer, a junior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center and a Clare Booth Luce Scholar majoring in natural science, heads to Ireland this summer to work in a pharmaceuticals lab in Dublin as part of a new internship program at Fordham through the Ireland-U.S. Council. Kruyer is one of four participating Fordham students, and is also the recipient of Fordham’s 2006 Chemistry Prize and a two-time former Campion Summer Fellow.

Matthew Pavone, a graduate assistant in the International Political Economy and Development program (IPED) pursuing master’s degrees in international political economy and economics, will head to Italy on a Fulbright Fellowship to study finance and agricultural development in the Mezzogiorno. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Iota Rho, and a former Matteo Ricci Summer Fellow. He also served as editor of the IPED newsletter.

Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar Chanel Cathey received a $10,000 Unilever Legacy of Leadership award and was invited to throw out the first pitch at a New York Mets game commemorating the late Jackie Robinson. “I was honored to be chosen,” said Cathey. “It was a privilege to carry on the legacy of an American hero who has done so much for this country.”

Cathey is a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, working toward a double major in political science and communication and media studies. Cathey is also a Xavier Scholar through Fordham’s Campion Institute.

Among those students chosen to pursue research interests both at home and abroad through Fordham’s Campion Institute are:

Emily Wilant, a junior in the College of Business Administration, who was invited to participate in the Young Leaders Global Education Summit. Wilant traveled to Washington, D.C., in February on a Matteo Ricci scholarship to participate in a two-day symposium on working to ensure universal primary education by 2015.

Classical languages major Michael Esposito, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, travels to Albania this summer as a Campion Scholar to assist on the Butrint Project, an archeological dig led by Richard Hodges, Ph.D., one of the world’s foremost late classical and medieval archeologists. Esposito, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, is co-founder and co-president of the Fordham Chess Club.

Devin Gladden, a sophomore at Fordham College at Rose Hill majoring in international political economy and minoring in environmental studies, will work as a summer intern at the National Wildlife Federation on a Campion scholarship. Gladden is also a trained speaker through Al Gore’s Climate Project Training Program.

Fordham’s Matteo Ricci Scholars receive summer housing stipends to conduct research; the Campion Scholars, who must have a grade point average of 3.8 or above, receive both housing and cash stipends.


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