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UNC senior Richard Waters is one of 12 recipients of the 2005-06 George J. Mitchell Scholarship, supporting graduate study in Ireland and Northern Ireland. He is UNC’s second Mitchell Scholarship recipient since the program began in 1998 and was chosen from 220 applicants representing 166 colleges and universities.
Waters, who is a Morehead Scholar at UNC, plans to use the scholarship to earn a graduate degree in applied science at the University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. He eventually plans to pursue a medical degree and combine scientific research and applied medicine to help people in underserved regions of the world.
“This program will be beneficial because it will give me training and hands-on experience in research that is directly applicable to all walks of life,” Waters said. “That is one of the things that drew me to medicine; it is universally applicable.”
Waters, who is majoring in chemistry and mathematics, became interested in medicine during his summer experiences in Latin America. In 2002, he was in Peru, teaching urban children English, math and physics. In 2003, he worked in a hospital in Honduras, assisting in surgery, delivering babies and laboratory work.
Last summer, he interned at a hospital in Chile, practicing a complementary model of health care combining Western and indigenous Mapuche medicine.
He brought what he learned back to UNC, co-chairing the Advocates for Human Rights and the Conexion committees at the Campus Y. Waters organized a Human Rights Week in April 2003 and established a program that worked with area high schools to bring Hispanic students to campus for orientation on admissions, academics and college life.
A member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honor societies, Waters has been on the dean’s list every semester. Last year, he received the Ernest L. Mackie Award for being the man of UNC’s junior class judged most outstanding in character, scholarship and leadership.
He also is a member of the Order of the Grail-Valkyries, which recognizes individuals of outstanding character who have made significant contributions to UNC’s academic climate, and the Order of the Old Well, which recognizes students who have made outstanding contributions in service.
“Richard has already made himself into an impressive research scientist,” said UNC English Professor George Lensing, director of distinguished scholarships at UNC.
“His professors consistently rate him as one of the best students in their teaching experience. Equally impressive is Richard’s commitment to the use of scientific research and methods to serve the neediest and poorest. He has a very bright future before him.”
The Mitchell Scholarship program began in 1998 with an endowment from the Government of Ireland. Administered by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., the program also is funded by corporate, government and private entities and by Irish universities, which provide housing and tuition. The scholarship also covers travel and living expenses stipends. The program honors former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell for his leadership in the Northern Ireland peace process.