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UMPI student named Mitchell Peace Scholar

Jared Monahan, a junior double majoring in Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, has been named a 2010-2011 George J. Mitchell Peace Scholar. One student in the University of Maine System and one student in the Maine Community College System are selected for this honor each year.

The George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarship was created in 1998 and honors the Northern Ireland peace accord brokered by Senator Mitchell between the governments and peoples of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The accord was reached on Good Friday, April 10, 1998, and accepted by vote of the citizens of Ireland and Northern Ireland on May 22, 1998.

“We are delighted that Jared was selected for this prestigious honor and will serve as the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s very first Mitchell Peace Scholar,” President Don Zillman said. “He has distinguished himself academically and shown leadership in all he has undertaken. We are proud to have him represent the University and the State of Maine in this important cultural and educational experience.”

The Mitchell Peace Scholarship allows students from Maine to live in the city of Cork on the south coast of Ireland and spend a semester attending the University College Cork of the National University of Ireland. Monahan will receive a travel stipend, free tuition and room and board, and his academic fees will be waived.

“It’s a really big deal,” Monahan conceded. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime because how many times do you get an opportunity to go to a foreign country to study and have it paid for?”

Monahan will be taking Gaelic and Celtic literature classes as well as some specialized science courses such as Aquatic Mammal Marine Biology. He’s hoping to work with a professor there named Dr. Thomas K. Doyle, who does research on leatherback sea turtles – the subject area in which Monahan ultimately hopes to complete a doctorate. He’ll attend the University College Cork during the Spring 2011 semester.

Monahan, a first-generation college student who hails from Brownville and started attending UMPI in 2007, said going to Ireland and learning the Gaelic language has special significance for him because of his heritage.

“Where my family is Irish, it’s important to me to bring the language back into my generation and teach it to my kids,” he said.

In order to become a Mitchell Peace Scholar, Monahan had to write an essay, demonstrate his success in academics, community service and leadership, and go through a competitive selection process that included a phone interview. During his undergraduate career, Monahan has served as an ornithological research assistant, a GIS consultant for a major project UMPI completed for the Presque Isle Public Works Department, a counselor tutor for the Upward Bound program, and a college science tutor for his peers. He also has served as a resident assistant for the University, and was selected to attend a genetics short course at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory.

For Monahan, all of his hard work paid off: “This is a very prestigious award, but this shows that even people from small towns and small schools can go on and do anything if they put their minds to it,” he said.