Benjamin Bechtolsheim ’09 chosen as Mitchell Scholar

The US-Ireland Alliance recently announced the 12 George J. Mitchell Scholars selected to pursue a year of post-graduate study at universities on the island of Ireland in the academic year 2012-2013. The 13th class of scholars was chosen from 300 applicants, one of whom is Benjamin Bechtolsheim ’09, a Chicago native currently working as an independent consultant for international development organizations in Washington D.C. 

Bechtolsheim’s primary client is the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, where he serves as an associate for health, strategy and management. In this role, Benjamin oversees a multi-country research study in sub-Saharan Africa on new biomedical approaches to HIV prevention.

Bechtolsheim graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in politics. After graduation Benjamin helped start a program to combat gender-based violence in northern Uganda. He serves on the board of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and leads alternative college spring-break programs in the developing world through American Jewish World Service.  He will pursue an MBA at University College Dublin.

Created in 2001, the Mitchell quickly became recognized as a highly competitive scholarship, vying with the more established Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships.

“While I was aware of the reputation of the Mitchell before I took this position, the caliber of these candidates still amazed me,” said Anne Glusker, who joined the Alliance in July as the Director of the program.

Created more than a decade ago by Trina Vargo, former foreign policy adviser to Senator Ted Kennedy, the scholarship was named in honor of Senator Mitchell’s role as chairman of the Northern Ireland peace talks. Those chosen must have strong records of academic achievement, service and leadership.

At a reception held last week for finalists at the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C., Irish Ambassador Michael Collins told guests, “The Scholarships that bear Senator Mitchell’s name are a wonderful testament to the contribution the Senator made to peace in Ireland and provides an invaluable platform to connect highly talented young American men and women to Ireland today. The Mitchell scholarships are important to Ireland and to ensure that Ireland and the United States remain connected in a very special and meaningful way.”

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