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Student receives scholarship to study at Cambridge

Carolyn Hutyra | Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Senior MurphyKate Montee won’t need to shy away from the classic senior spring question: “Do you know what you’re doing next year?”

Montee, along with 13 other students, will head to Churchill College at Cambridge University as a Winston Churchill Scholar.

“The scholarship offers pretty much all of my school costs, travel and visa. It’s an incredibly generous gift from the Winston Churchill Foundation,” said Montee, the second Notre Dame student to receive the award.  

“I’ll be doing Part III, which is a taught program in math,” she said. “I’ll be concentrating in theoretical math, probably with a geometry and topology focus.”

Although Montee will continue to pursue mathematics, the subject has not been her sole focus at Notre Dame. In fact, she is a math and music double major.

“I love them both.  They are both beautiful and creative in their own way, and very fun,” Montee said. “The feeling of proving something in math is very like the feeling after a successful performance. It’s a high.”

Montee first heard about the Churchill math program over a year ago from the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) and later from a friend from the University of Michigan, Nicholas Triantafillou, who also won the award for 2013. She said her interest was immediately piqued, and she felt driven to apply for the Churchill scholarship.

“It’s a really great taught math program at Cambridge, very rigorous and with lots of interesting possible topics,” she said.

The application process included the submission of a personal statement and a collection of short essays focused on Montee’s interest in England and Cambridge University. Montee was also interviewed by Peter Patrikis, executive director for the foundation in the United States, over the phone, during which she was informed of her acceptance.

“Mr. Patrikis was pretty sneaky about how he told me actually,” Montee said. “We had been talking for about fifteen minutes, and he asked, ‘So, what are you most looking forward to when you’re in England next year?’ It was a really exhilarating moment when I realized that I had actually done it.”

The Churchill Scholarship is the latest in a number of distinguished awards for Montee. She recently won the Alice T. Schafer Prize in Mathematics from the Association for Women in Mathematics and the Norman and Beatrice Haaser Mathematics Scholarships from the Notre Dame Math Department.

While Montee is passionate about her work in mathematics, she said she is going to make some time to enjoy her new surroundings next year.

“This is going to be my first long term visit abroad,” she said. “I’m looking forward to meeting people, and travelling to see the geography and some great musical sights.”