Mitchell Scholars

The U.S.-Ireland Alliance announced Nov. 17 recipients of its 20th annual George J. Mitchell Scholarship, with Indian Americans Keshav Goel and Rohan Naik, and Pakistani American Minhal Ahmed among the 12 honorees. (us-irelandalliance.org photo)

The U.S.-Ireland Alliance Nov. 17 announced the 20th annual class of its George J. Michell Scholarship program recipients with a pair of Indian Americans and a Pakistani American among those honored.

A total of 12 members were chosen for the class of 2020 scholars following interviews conducted in Washington, D.C., the alliance said.

The Scholarship program, which sends future American leaders to the island of Ireland for a year of graduate study, was created by the founder and president of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, Trina Vargo, and is named in honor of Sen. George Mitchell’s contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process.

Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall hosted a reception for the finalists and alumni at his residence Nov. 23. Carolina Chavez, the director of the Mitchell Scholarship Program, spoke of how the popularity of one of the most prestigious scholarships in the U.S. continues to grow, the alliance noted.

Among the scholars were Keshav Goel, Rohan Naik and Minhal Ahmed.

Goel is a dual major in biology and economics at Williams College. Understanding that socioeconomic inequality is one of the greatest public health concerns in the United States, he has conducted research on ailments that disproportionally affects the world’s poor, the alliance noted in his bio.

Growing up in Northern California, he co-authored his first published clinical paper at the age of 16 on the automated detection of congenital heart defects in newborns. He is currently conducting a yearlong senior biology thesis to uncover the mechanisms of asthma, which largely affects impoverished children.

He has also conducted health economics research with Harvard Medical School to assess the quality and effectiveness of federally funded clinical trials. Goel works as a peer mentor with a local organization to provide drama therapy to adolescent survivors of trauma. An aspiring physician, he will study immunology and global health at NUI Maynooth.

Naik is a journalist and researcher, currently working on an upcoming Netflix documentary series on the 14th amendment. Originally from Houston, he graduated from Yale earlier this year, where he worked as a reporter for the Yale Daily News and at the New Haven Independent, his bio said.

He was also an intern at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and ProPublica where he researched and reported stories about air pollution in London and how police in the U.S. respond to hate crimes. As the head peer liaison at the Asian American Center at Yale, he created programming around the stigmatization of mental health issues and directed one of the university’s largest mentorship programs.

He was also selected by Yale to conduct sexual violence prevention programming. In collaboration with the city of New Haven, Naik also founded a gun buyback program. He is interested in researching how society remembers and constructs the past and will study public history at Queen’s University Belfast.

Ahmed immigrated to the United States from Pakistan at age four, attending five schools in five years before his parents settled in New York. He became interested in how our bodies and health are impacted both by our genes and our zip codes at a young age.

A bioengineering major at Northeastern University in Boston, Ahmed focuses his research on the gut microbiome, the trillions of microorganisms that live in our intestine. In the lab, he studies how the ecosystem in our gut may affect how we think and feel.

Outside of the lab, Ahmed works with Peer Health Exchange, a national organization that seeks to bring health equity to under-resourced schools by providing health education, his bio said.

After countless hours teaching health classes in Boston high schools, he was recently selected as president of the Northeastern campus chapter, one of the largest in the country. For fun, Ahmed DJs at his campus radio station. A Goldwater Scholar, he will study applied psychology at University College Cork, the alliance said.

A record number of 370 people applied for the 12 scholarships. More than 200 Congressional districts and an equal number of colleges and universities are represented in this year’s applicant pool. Recipients are chosen on the basis of academic distinction, leadership and service, it said.

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