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Carolina senior Sarah Bufkin has been selected for a Mitchell Scholarship, which supports graduate studies in Ireland.
Bufkin, 22, was one of 12 Americans selected Saturday for the prestigious award, which provides tuition, accommodations, a living expenses stipend and an international travel stipend for one year. She will pursue a master’s degree in moral, legal and political philosophy at Queens University in Belfast.
Bufkin, a cultural studies and history major in the College of Arts and Sciences, is UNC’s third Mitchell recipient since the first class of Mitchell Scholars in 2001. Applicants are judged on scholarship, leadership and a sustained commitment to community and public service.
“It’s such a surprise, and it really is an incredible honor to represent UNC over in Northern Ireland,” Bufkin says. “It’s also the crowning achievement of my four years in Chapel Hill. And it will allow me to do more, to learn more — to get a master’s (degree), which is something I never thought I would be looking to do this soon after graduating. I’m quite ecstatic.”
Bufkin is a Morehead-Cain Scholar, an Honors Carolina student and has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She plans to graduate from UNC in December. She previously served as editor-in-chief of Campus BluePrint and has been a counsel in the university’s student-run honor system.
Bufkin has interned for The Huffington Post and ThinkProgress. Last April, she was awarded the Taylor Research Fellowship to study the intersection of public engagement, political unrest and poetry in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. As an extension of her interest in justice and civil rights, Bufkin last summer conducted comparative research on the death penalty in the United Kingdom and North Carolina.
In the future, she would like to pursue a law degree and a doctorate in American studies. Long-term, she says, she would like to be a civil rights public interest lawyer.
“Sarah is an extraordinary scholar, a deep thinker and an accomplished poet,’’ says Linda Dykstra, director of UNC’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “The opportunity to pursue a master of arts degree at Queens University Belfast is a perfect match for this exceptional woman.”
The Mitchell Scholarship program is administered by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. It is also funded by corporate, government and private entities and by the participating Irish universities. The program honors former U.S. Senate Majority leader George Mitchell for his leadership in the Northern Ireland peace process.