By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The taoiseach greeted the first 12 George Mitchell Scholars, who will study for a year on both sides of the border under a program that is backed by the British and Irish governments.
Bertie Ahern said the scholars were chosen from more than 250 applicants from throughout the United States and the scholarships acknowledged in an effective way the huge contribution to the peace process of former Senator Mitchell, who brokered the 1998 Good Friday agreement.
The scholars, who met with Ahern on Friday in Dublin, will attend third-level institutions, including UCG, UCD, UCC, Maynooth, TCD, Queen’s University in Belfast, Dublin City University, the University of Limerick, the University of Ulster and the School of Ecumenics.
The subjects they will study are wide ranging and include medieval history, peace and development studies, international law and human rights, mathematical science, Celtic studies, biomedical sciences and multimedia systems.
The 12 are Edward Augenblick, Littleton, Col.; Rebecca Blustein, Piedmont, Calif.; Erin Breeze, Nederland, Col.; Traci Donovan, Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Mikela French, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Desha Girod, Wayne, Pa.; Winifred Li, La Brea, Calif.; Gabriel Paquette, Brooklyn; Rachel Rebouche, Bossier city, La.; Rebecca Reichert, Crystal Lake, Ill.; L’la Sturdy, Cooper City, Fla., and Thomas Vitolo, Roanoke, Va.
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The scholarship program is being organized by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, which was set up in 1998 by Trina Vargo. She served as foreign policy advisor to Sen. Edward Kennedy for 11 years.