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ND senior receivesIreland scholarship

Gene Noone | Friday, November 30, 2007

Notre Dame senior Andrea Laidman was named one of 12 recipients of the 2008-2009 George J. Mitchell Scholarship in Washington on Nov. 17.

The scholarship is a fellowship sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance. It affords a dozen students the opportunity to pursue one year of post-graduate study at any university in Ireland.

Laidman, a political science and international peace studies double major, said several professors encouraged her to look into various fellowships. The one that stood out the most, she said, was the Mitchell Scholarship. Laidman was an intern at the Irish Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in Dublin last summer.

“The Mitchell scholarship, which is named after Sen. George Mitchell, who helped broker the peace agreements in Northern Ireland, looks for students who have been activists in their field,” Laidman said. “I’ve been able to do that while at Notre Dame. So, George Mitchell’s life and work and the goals of the scholarship seemed like a good fit with my own.”

Laidman was chosen out of an initial applicant pool of more than 300 students – the highest number of applicants in recent years – from 139 schools. After narrowing the pool to 20 finalists, 12 were chosen as winners.

“I was very happy to get the phone call telling me that I’d been selected,” Laidman said. “I did not have any expectations when I first applied, but when it came down to only 20 students, I definitely had my hopes up.”

Applicants are judged on three criteria: academic excellence, leadership and a sustained commitment to service and community. Laidman was chosen among winners from other schools, including Georgetown University, Duke University, and Dartmouth College.

“These young leaders are the perfect heirs to Sen. Mitchell’s legacy,” said Mary Lou Hartman, director of the Mitchell Scholarship program. “They will build on his legacy in impressive fashion in the years ahead.”

With her scholarship, Laidman will enter the master’s program in anthropology and development at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

“This program will really add to what I’ve studied in political science and peace studies at [Notre Dame] allowing me to form my foundation in politics while studying other aspects of a society or country,” she said.

After receiving her master’s, Laidman plans to return to the U.S. to pursue a career in international or human rights law.

“I hope to work in shaping international development and human rights policies, either in a government agency or for an NGO or other organization,” Laidman said.

In 2006, Laidman co-founded Notre Dame Against State Killing (ND ASK), a campaign that encourages a moratorium on executions in Indiana.

Laidman is also active in the Pasquerilla East Musical Company and the Center for Social Concerns. She is a columnist for The Observer.

The Mitchell Scholarship provides tuition, housing, a living expense stipend and an international travel stipend for its recipients.