At the Request of Mr. REID, the Following Statement Was Ordered to Be Printed in the Recor
(At the request of Mr. REID, the following statement was ordered to be printed in the Record.) -- (Senate - May 19, 2009)
GEORGE MITCHELL SCHOLARS
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, today, Taoiseach Brian Cowen met with the ninth class of George J. Mitchell Scholars. His decision to meet with this impressive group of students demonstrates the major contribution this program is making to strengthen the future of the United States-Ireland relationship.
The United States-Ireland Alliance was created in 1998 by my former foreign policy adviser, Trina Vargo. With limited resources and staff, the alliance has been at the forefront of recognizing, and then responding to, the fundamental changes in the United States-Ireland relationship.
The Mitchell Scholarship program is the keystone of the United States-Ireland Alliance. It has been led ably by Mary Lou Hartman, and has gone from strength to strength. In a few short years, the program has become as competitive and as sought after as other renowned scholarships such as the Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright Scholarships. This year, 300 people applied for the 12 annual Mitchell Scholarships. I have followed the causes of these former Mitchell Scholars and they are already making outstanding contributions and reflect the commitment to service exemplified by our former Senate colleague, George Mitchell.
One former Mitchell Scholar, Seena Perumal, lives in Cambridge, MA, where she serves is chief of staff for the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy. Seena graduated with a bachelor's degree in religion and a master's in public health from Case Western Reserve University. She founded and was president of Project Sunshine, which serves hospitalized children, and founded and was president of Alternative Break, an organization that helps organize community service trips during spring breaks from college. She also worked with Cleveland Jobs With Justice, a group that ensures workers' rights. As a Mitchell Scholar, she obtained a master's degree in international human rights at the National University of Ireland in Galway. She then served as the director of new initiatives for the New York City Department of Homeless Services, the agency that oversees policies and programs for the city's approximately 37,000 homeless persons.
The U.S. Government has provided $500,000 each year for the Mitchell Scholarship Program. I commend Irish businessman Derek Quinlan for his commitment to raise 20 million euros toward establishing a permanent endowment for this program. The Irish Government has agreed to match what is raised for this impressive program, and I am sure that United States-Ireland ties will continue to benefit significantly from these important scholarships in the years ahead.