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MIHS grads receive Fulbright Scholarship

Two recent Mercer Island High School graduates have earned Fulbright Scholarships, one to work in Jordan and the second in Costa Rica.

Leah Spelman, Mercer Island High School Class of 2005, was recently awarded a Fulbright Grant for Jordan. Spelman will travel to the Middle East in January 2011 to begin her research. Her research will address how European non-governmental-organizations are affecting women’s political participation. Spelman will work with the University of Jordan in Amman. She plans to conduct interviews with male and female members of Jordanian parliament, as well as with local and European women’s organizations.

Spelman graduated from George Washington University in 2009 with a B.A. in International Affairs. Her interest in Jordan began when she traveled briefly to the country during her semester abroad in Egypt. As part of her study in Jordan, she will supplement her research with several months of intensive Arabic study. Spelman hopes to one day publish her research, or to utilize it in future professional positions to help make US foreign aid more effective.

Madolyn Hollowed, MIHS Class of 2006, will be heading off this September to Costa Rica on a Fulbright Scholarship. Hollowed will spend the next year as a Fulbright Fellow developing a diabetes prevention program for indigenous tribes in the jungles of Costa Rica. Her project will build upon work she did with the Ngöbe tribe during a study abroad term while attending Occidental College in California.

Hollowed graduated this spring from Occidental College with distinction in biology. During her junior year, she spent four months interviewing health professionals, tribal elders and shamans of the Ngöbe tribe in an effort to develop baseline data on diabetes. Hollowed recognized that the diets of the tribal members appear to be changing for the worse and there was a general lack of understanding of the disease. She realized a need for a broad-based prevention program that would be helpful to the tribal community.

“It’s far cheaper for society to prevent the disease rather than deal with the impacts caused once it establishes itself in a community,” says Hollowed. Hollowed’s hope is to develop a permanent program to help prevent one of the more pervasive diseases among indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Hollowed gives much credit to her success on receiving the Fulbright through her education at Mercer Island, the opportunities for student grants at Occidental College, and the assistance of her teachers at Occidental. While at Occidental, Hollowed received research grants with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to conduct independent field ecology research in Costa Rica and a Richter International Award for independent research abroad to study emergency room efficiency in hospitals throughout England, Spain and Croatia. Hollowed also received a Values and Vocations Fellowship and an Anderson Grant to study the politics of disaster relief in New Orleans. Hollowed also co-authored a publication in a scientific journal from her work as an intern with the National Marine Fisheries Service while attending Occidental.

“The many different grant opportunities Occidental offers to their students opens many doors for extra-curricular opportunities that cannot be provided in the classroom,” said Hollowed. Once she completes her work in Costa Rica, Madolyn looks forward to continuing her medical research interests working with rural and indigenous or impoverished communities in the United States.

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