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Mitchell Scholarship Allows Medical Students To Study Public Health In Ireland

Thomas Golden, a third-year medical student at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, can trace his early interest in becoming a doctor to stories his great-grandmother shared with him about Ireland.

As World War I was nearing its end, the world faced another threat, a pandemic that would take the lives of approximately 100 million people. The press in war-torn countries often avoided writing about the pandemic for fear that it might demoralize troops. Since Spain was a neutral country, newspapers there had no such concerns, and the pandemic was known as the "Spanish influenza." "Spanish influenza" was due to the H1N1 virus, and the world was ill-equipped to battle the illness, having only recognized that influenza was caused by a virus several decades earlier.

Over 20,000 people succumbed to the disease in Ireland. Thomas's great-grandmother lost her parents and some of her siblings. Thomas remembers wanting to find ways to stop such a catastrophe from happening again.

Starting this fall, Thomas will study public health at the University College in Cork, Ireland. He will do so as a Mitchell Scholar. The Mitchell Scholarship is a competitive scholarship program that receives approximately 300 applications annually for 12 positions.

The scholarship program is named after former Maine Sen. George J. Mitchell, who played an instrumental role in the Northern Ireland peace process. It is sponsored by the governments of the United States and Northern Ireland.

In medical school, we learn ways to help people when they get sick. And we learn certain preventive measures, but I was interested in studying public health because there’s a real emphasis on devising ways to keep people from getting sick in the first place.
— Thomas Holden

From Rutgers Today

To be eligible for the Mitchell Scholarship Program, applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30. Twelve applicants will be the recipients of the scholarship which provides tuition, accommodation, and a stipend for living and travel in Ireland. Criteria for judging include scholarship, leadership, and sustained commitment to community and public health.

Congratulations to Thomas Golden!