Six Michigan State University Students nominated for prestigious graduate school scholarships

Six students from Michigan State University (MSU) have been nominated for three highly competitive graduate school scholarships: the Marshall Scholarship, the Mitchell Scholarship and the Rhodes Scholarship.

All of the scholarships support U.S. citizens attending graduate school in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Among the nominees for the Marshall Scholarship is Joel Arnold, a recent graduate with degrees in social relations and policy from the James Madison College and urban and regional planning from the College of Social Science; Rebecca Carlson, an Honors College senior majoring in chemical engineering from the College of Engineering; and Clara Lepard, an Honors College senior majoring in zoology from the College of Natural Sciences. 

Arnold, along with Margaret Born, an Honors College senior majoring in comparative cultures and politics from James Madison College, and Arabic from the College of Arts and Letters, and Alana O’Mara, an Honors College senior majoring in neuroscience in the Lyman Briggs College, have been nominated for the Mitchell Scholarship.

Arnold, O’Mara and Eamon Devlin, an Honors College senior majoring in environmental studies and sustainability and also fisheries and wildlife in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, have been nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship.

The National and International Fellowship and Scholarship (NIFS) office at Michigan State University, administered by the Honors College, helps interested undergraduate and graduate students to pursue major national and international opportunities by providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application processes.

“These are students who have gone above and beyond during their time at university,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the Honors College. “MSU is proud to nominate these gifted and hard-working students for these major awards.”

Arnold grew up in Flint, Michigan and part of his decision for his majors was because of the economic collapse of his hometown. Through his roles as blight management analyst and master planning intern for the city of Flint, he has come to understand and is committed to helping solve the problems of not only Flint, but also other areas that have fallen on hard times. 

“Crafting public policy that reinvests in cities, that understands the dark past of international urban and social policy while understanding that we can avoid those mistakes in the future, and that most importantly gives forlorn places an opportunity to compete is what drives me every day,” he said.

As an undergraduate, he expanded a program called “LiveWorkDetroit!,” to MSU. The program is designed to keep Michigan college graduates in state and reverse the effects of the “brain drain” occurring in cities like Detroit. He also studied abroad at Regent’s University in London.

Arnold plans to study social policy and urban planning. Arnold graduated from Davison High School.

Born is the founder and president of Project Nur, a student organization devoted to combating Islamophobia through education and cross-cultural interaction. She has also served as caucus chair and leader for inclusion on the James Madison College Student Senate.

She has held internships with the Michigan House of Representatives and Refugee Development Center. Born now works as a peer advisor for the MSU Office of Study Abroad.

Born plans to study international peace studies. She is from Jackson, Wyoming and graduated from Natrona County High School.

“Pursuing my master’s degree in Ireland will move me beyond the theories of peace and justice and ground me in the lived reality of struggle,” Born said. “I am hungry to learn all that I can there.”

Carlson has participated in and led research both on and off MSU’s campus. Currently, she is a research assistant in an applied biomolecular engineering lab and also a student ambassador for the Undergraduate Research Office.

Carlson was named an Evergrande Scholar, earning the opportunity the work at Harvard Medical School’s Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases. She is also part of the Red Cedar Undergraduate Research Journal (ReCUR) Student Editorial Board.

Carlson plans to study bioinformatics and theoretical systems biology. She is from Rockford, Michigan and graduated from Rockford Senior High School.

“Through my international and interdisciplinary experiences, I hope to eventually foster partnerships with scientists worldwide, mentor budding scientists learning to speak the language of research, and develop innovative computational and experimental approaches to understanding the immune system,” Carlson said. “By becoming an engineer and scientist, I could both act as intermediary, serving as ‘interpreter’ across different fields, and contribute new knowledge through original research.”

Lepard is a research assistant working on the ecology of carnivores and their prey, and has worked in seven different laboratories on separate areas of zoology and wildlife management. She recently completed a study abroad program in Kenya focusing on the behavioral ecology of African mammals.

In addition, Lepard is a resident assistant in Mason Hall, secretary for the Mason Hall government, and a sexual assault and relationship violence prevention peer educator at MSU.

Lepard plans to study biodiversity, conservation, and management. She is from East Lansing, Michigan and graduated from East Lansing High School.

“I have narrowed down those aspects of research I love the most, and am pursuing them with all that I have,” said Lepard. “It’s been a journey of constant self-reflection and growth, and it has all paid off as I look forward to my career.”

Devlin participated in study abroad programs through MSU in Antarctica and New Zealand, where he learned about various ecosystems and the human dimensions associated with each. He had the opportunity to interact with people of many different cultures in a team setting. Devlin also participated in study away programs to Washington D.C and Yellowstone National Park.

Devlin worked as a national air program assistant for the U.S Forest Service. In that role, he gathered funds and developed an app to connect people with national forests and grasslands. Devlin conducted continuous research for this app and was a liaison between the U.S Forest Service and the app’s company, eNature.

Devlin plans to study environmental change and management. He is from Farmington Hills, Michigan and graduated from Harrison High School.

“My generation’s most pressing problems are centered on environmental change, and finding sustainable solutions before we cross tipping points,” he said. “I want to be part of a group that reverses the model of exploiting the environment, to one that learns to value and sustainably live within it.”

O’Mara was a member of MSU’s cross-country team for her first three years and received the Big-Ten Scholar Athlete award. She has studied abroad in Switzerland and Ireland.

O’Mara volunteers at Parkinson’s Dance Group, a program that uses dance therapy to bring together Parkinson’s patients each month. She was a summer intern for the National Institute of Health (NIH) at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, where she researched grant analysis and used social media to enhance awareness of pediatric clinical studies. O’Mara also interned at a lab at MSU, designing experiments to study avian behavior and clone the PSEN1 gene responsible for Alzheimer’s.

O’Mara plans to study either neuroscience or ageing, gerontology and degenerative diseases. She is from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and graduated from Lahser High School.

“I am passionate about helping this community and understanding their concerns as we move forward with research,” she said. “Looking to the future, we need markers for earlier diagnosis and effective treatments.”

MSU has produced 18 Marshall Scholars, one Mitchell Scholar and 17 Rhodes Scholars.

The Marshall Commission provides support to approximately 40 of the most outstanding undergraduates in the country to study at any university in the United Kingdom.

The US-Ireland Alliance established the George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program, which allows up to 12 future American leaders to pursue a year of graduate study in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Rhodes Trust, the oldest of the major international competitive award foundations, provides 32 of the most outstanding undergraduates in the country an opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in England.