NEW YORK – So far this year, eight Fordham University students have received national prestigious fellowships to study history, education and literature and to practice law. Two students are finalists for Fulbright Fellowships and are awaiting confirmation, and one student was a finalist in the Rhodes Scholarship competition. “The Fordham faculty are committed to challenging each student to reach a standard of excellence they may not know they can reach,” said the Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. “Through the prestigious fellowship program, faculty work closely with students to prepare them to compete for these honors.” Last year, Fordham hired a full-time director of prestigious fellowships, putting greater emphasis on developing a culture of academic excellence at Fordham, von Arx said. In the last five years, more than 60 undergraduates have received prestigious awards under the tutelage of Fordham faculty. Fordham’s most recent honor was announced in April when Mary Kate Blaine, FCRH ’00, was awarded the James Madison Memorial Fellowship, which provides an award of up to $24,000 for two years of graduate work in American history, government or political science. Blaine will continue pursuing her passion for the past at either Columbia University’s Teachers’ College or at the University of Pennsylvania. The Madison Fellowship was established by Congress in 1986 to improve teaching about the United States Constitution in secondary schools. After graduation, Blaine has plans to teach high school history. Brian Purnell, FCRH ’00, was the only student from a Catholic university to receive the Andrew Mellon Fellowship for Humanistic Studies this year. He is one of 85 recipients nationwide to receive the Mellon fellowship, which pays for the first year of doctoral study, in addition to a $14,750 stipend. He is among award winners from Harvard, Columbia and Princeton universities and is the first Fordham graduate to receive this award. Purnell, a history and African and African American history major, will continue his studies at New York University, where he will concentrate on 20th century political movements, such as work done by the Congress of Racial Equality. The Mellon fellowships help exceptionally promising students prepare for careers in teaching and scholarship in humanistic disciplines. Purnell also received NYU’s Henry M. MacCracken Fellowship, which covers tuition and provides a $17,000 yearly stipend. Khalilah Ieishah Clelland, FCLC ’00, received the prestigious British Marshall Scholarship to study post-colonial literature in Africa and the Caribbean at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, this fall. Clelland, an English major and anthropology minor, was selected from 24 finalists in the Northeast competing for the award, which allows for two years of advanced study in England. She is among Marshall scholarship recipients from Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell universities, and she is the first Fordham College at Lincoln Center undergraduate to receive this award in the college’s 31-year history. This scholarship is financed by the British government and was established in 1953 as a gesture of thanks to the United States for its assistance under the Marshall Plan following World War II. The New York City Urban Fellows Program named Kevin O’Neill, FCRH �00, an Urban Scholar and Stephanie Toti, FCRH ’00, a Government Scholar. The New York City Urban Fellows Program awards scholarships to students planning to pursue careers in government and public service. Fellows receive a $21,000 stipend for the nine months. The Government Scholar Program is a 10-week summer version of the Urban Scholars Program, where fellows receive a $3,000 stipend. Gilbert D. Martinez, LAW ’00, received the New Voices Fellowship from the Academy of Educational Development, which is funded by the Ford Foundation. Martinez will spend two years working to improve legal services to migrant workers. Based in Austin, Texas, the fellowship provides $32,000 annually, with an additional annual $6,000 toward student loan repayment and $1,200 for professional development. Elsa Rodriguez, LAW ’00, received a two-year National Association for Public Interest Law Fellowship. Rodriguez will create a self-help center in Atlanta to assist poor people in improving their access to the court system when dealing with family law matters. The fellowship provides $32,500 annually, with potential loan repayment of 80 percent. Paul Harris, LAW ’00, received a job through the Department of Justice Honors Program. Harris, one of eight students nationwide to be chosen by the Justice Department, will work in the Environment and Natural Resources Division in Washington, D.C.