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Spencer Salibur (above) is one of this year's winners of the Thomas R. Pickering foreign affairs fellowships.

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Middlebury Students Earn Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards

May 6, 2014

Note: Spring is the time of year when national foundations, organizations, and agencies announce the recipients of fellowships, scholarships, and awards. The Communications Office will continue to update this story as more announcements are made.

Rana Abdelhamid

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Rana Abdelhamid, a Middlebury College junior and outspoken advocate for women’s rights, has been selected for the 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study, as well as leadership training, specialized counseling, and internship opportunities within the federal government. Middlebury’s recipient is one of 59 undergraduates in the United States to receive this year’s Truman Scholarship.

Abdelhamid, from Flushing, N.Y, plans to apply to graduate programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is also the recipient of a 2014 Pickering Fellowship, a program that often leads to a career with the U.S. Department of State.

Kevin Liang  
Michael Martini  

Kevin Liang and Michael Martini, both Middlebury College juniors, are among the 300 undergraduates nationwide to receive Barry Goldwater Scholarships in 2014 for excellence in science and technology. Liang, a physics and mathematics major from New York City, and Martini, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Stockton, Calif., will now receive up to $7,500 for their senior year of academic study. Liang’s goal is to earn a doctorate in dusty plasma physics and conduct research in astrophysics and space physics. “Dusty plasma physics is a growing field that attempts to model certain situations in the universe,” he explained, “such as Saturn’s rings or nebulae, which contain high levels of plasma along with micro- or nana-sized dust particles immersed in them.

Martini hopes to earn an M.D./Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology so he can “bridge the gap between lab bench and clinic,” i.e., lead a research team in developing novel therapeutics and then test the compounds in drug trials. During the summer of 2012 Martini pursued a 10-week project in Dr. Lynn Heasley’s lab at the University of Colorado Cancer Center investigating the potential for fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) to serve as predictive biomarkers for Non Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) cells.

Two Middlebury juniors – Rana Abdelhamid and Spencer Salibur – have been selected for Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships, which provide academic and professional preparation for candidates seeking careers in the foreign service. A collaborative program of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the U.S. Department of State, the highly competitive fellowship provides up to $40,000 per year for two years of combined undergraduate and graduate study. Pickering fellows also receive valuable mentoring, training, and professional development to prepare them to serve as U.S. foreign service officers. Pickering fellows are expected to take the Foreign Service Examination and make a five-year commitment to serving as a foreign service officer.

Abdelhamid, from Flushing, N.Y., is an international politics and economics major at Middlebury who will graduate in May 2015 and plans to apply to graduate programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. A Posse Foundation scholar, Abdelhamid at age 17 founded the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment, a self-defense, leadership, and entrepreneurship program for Muslim girls in New York City. In just four years it has attracted over 150 participants, and one public school in Queens is considering offering it as an elective class. At Middlebury she has been a founder and president of the college chapter of Amnesty International, a facilitator of “JusTalks” to promote discussions on campus about justice, a fellow in the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and a leader of an alternative spring break trip to the Dominican Republic.

Salibur, also a Posse Foundation scholar, is passionate about learning languages, studying economics, and absorbing other cultures. Currently studying in Rio de Janeiro with the C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in Latin America, she believes that a career path as a foreign service officer will enable her to fortify U.S. economic policy abroad and work with individuals in emerging nations, like Brazil, to develop stronger ties with the U.S. and a more sustainable economy. A junior from Harlem, N.Y., Salibur has studied Portuguese, Spanish, and French at Middlebury, and is majoring in international studies with a dual focus in Latin America and economics. She has been active in community service for Atwater Commons and was an orientation leader for international students. After graduation in May 2015, Salibur plans to pursue a master’s degree in diplomacy and economics.

Nine Middlebury seniors and three recent graduates received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation. See separate story for details.


Bryanna Kleber '14

Bryanna Kleber has been awarded the Vermont Law School/Middlebury College Environmental Scholarship. Kleber will begin her law studies at the Randolph, Vermont campus this fall. The scholarship is intended to support outstanding individuals who demonstrate environmental and public interest involvement and who can effect change.

In addition, Kleber was awarded a merit scholarship and was chosen as the recipient of the Environmental Advocacy Scholarship by VLS, which means that her entire tuition for law school will be covered by scholarship.



Armel Nibasumba

Armel Arnaud Nibasumba ’16, of Burundi, has been awarded a Projects for Peace grant for summer 2014. Projects for Peace grants provide funding of up to $10,000 to student projects in schools that participate in the Davis United World Scholars Program. Nibasumba’s project, "Twese for Peace National Camp," will train 35 students in Burundi in entrepreneurial skills and conflict resolution with the long-term goal of changing how the country thinks and talks about ethnicity. Nibasumba hopes this effort will be a step toward establishing the necessary foundations for lasting peace in a country with a history of ethnic conflict.


Helena Hlavaty and Anna Mack

Middlebury sophomore Helena Hlavaty ’16 and Anna Mack ’14 have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships (CLS). Hlavaty, an economics major from Rockville, Md., will study Arabic. Mack, who currently works part time for the College’s Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, will study Chinese. Among the approximately 550 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to receive a CLS scholarship, both women will spend seven to 10 weeks this summer in intensive language institutes – Hlavaty in Jordan and Mack in China.

Originally from Bristol, R.I., Mack, a joint major in Chinese and Sociology/Anthropology, attended the Chinese Language School in 2011 and the School Abroad in Kunming, China, in 2012. After she completes the CLS program, she will remain in China for a year doing research at Wuhan University through a Fulbright Research Fellowship.

Emily Bensen

Emily Bensen '14 has received the George B. Bryan Award for excellence in a project or paper on a Vermont topic. The award, which includes a $250 cash prize, is sponsored by the University of Vermont and open to all undergraduate college students. Bensen is a sociology/anthropology major from Norwich, Vermont. She researched the topic of social capital in Addison County, Vt., and looked specifically at town clerks as key agents in the formation and preservation of this social connectedness in Vermont. Middlebury students have a very successful history with the Bryan Award, having won the award 12 of the last 16 times it has been awarded since it began in 1997.

Jessica Kong and Megan Ernst

Vermont Campus Compact (VCC), a statewide consortium of higher education institutions that encourages volunteerism among college students, has recognized Middlebury College Access Mentors (MiddCAM) with an Engaged Student Award. A new initiative at Middlebury, MiddCAM is a college-access mentoring program that was started by juniors Megan Ernst and Jessica Kong. The program matched eight high schools students with college mentors, who helped them to navigate the often overwhelming college application process. Of the initial eight students who were mentored, seven students applied to college.

MiddCAM was honored at VCC's annual awards event, where a student or student organization from each participating VCC member college received an Engaged Student Award. More information about the awards is available on VCC's website.