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Alumnus named Mitchell Scholar

EMILY McCONVILLE | Wednesday, December 11, 2013



On Nov. 25, The U.S.-Ireland Alliance announced a 2008 Notre Dame alumnus is one of this year’s Mitchell Scholars and will receive a full scholarship to a one-year Master’s program in Ireland. 

Molly Hayes, a Kenya desk officer at the U.S. Department of State who graduated from Notre Dame with degrees in English and Arabic, was one of 12 people selected from a pool of 300 applicants. 

According to her biography on the Mitchell Scholars website, Hayes has worked as desk officer for multiple North African nations, and she was a deputy coordinator for the Egypt Task Force during the Arab Spring. 

During Hayes’s time at Notre Dame, the biography said, she founded ND-Abroad, which worked to help students studying abroad and “developed a University Counseling Center support group for students who experienced trauma abroad.” 

Hayes plans to study postcolonial and world literature at National University of Ireland, Maynooth, according to the biography.

Dr. Jeffrey Thibert, assistant director of National Fellowships at the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), said the award, which is on par with the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, will bring prestige to the University. 

“These are the kinds of things that raise the academic profile of an institution and really enhance Notre Dame’s reputation as a world-class research institution, and really is providing a world-class undergraduate education,” Thibert said. “I think, especially in Molly’s case, it’s a testament to the kind of … education she received here that helped her to achieve such great things in the past four to five years since she left.” 

Thibert said the award also raises the profile of CUSE, through which Hayes did research when she was an undergraduate. 

“There are a lot of opportunities here, in part through CUSE, but also through other groups on campus to receive funding for undergraduate projects, undergraduate research of all different kinds,” he said. “I’ve been at a few other institutions, and I’m amazed at how much support there is for that here, so I would really encourage people to take advantage of that.

“[Doing research through CUSE] contributed, in a sense, to her winning this award, but it also contributed to her being able to get into the kinds of positions she got into with the State Department. And I think that made a really big difference in her application to have these kinds of experiences, which she might not have been able to have if she had not had the opportunities she had here.” 

Thibert said while some scholarship applications require University endorsements, the Mitchell Scholars Program does not. He said his office worked with her on other aspects of the application. 

“We mostly worked on interviewing advice,” Thibert said. “We have sort of a database of information from past years because we’ve had people interviewing for these things and there’s also a fellowship adviser organization that collects information on these things. We were giving her some advice on what to expect from the semifinalist interview and then from the finalist interview.” 

Thibert said he also hopes the fact that Hayes won the scholarship will raise awareness of the opportunities Notre Dame alumni have, even after they graduate. 

“We’re trying to do more to reach out to these alumni to get the word out about some of these awards, because sometimes people think when they graduate, that’s kind of it,” he said. “Even if they know they’re eligible for certain things, they don’t realize they can still work with us, but they can. As long as someone graduated from here, we are happy to work with him [or her].” 

Contact Emily McConville at [email protected]