Feb. 1, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 9

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    Alumnus will study in Ireland on a Mitchell scholarship

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    Franklin McMillan is currently teaching at Public School #70 in the Bronx, New York.

    Franklin McMillan (A.B.,’05) is one of 12 Americans to receive a George J. Mitchell scholarship, and he is the first University College alumnus named a Mitchell scholar.

    The scholarships are administered by the US-Ireland Alliance and are awarded annually to 12 Americans under the age of 30 who have exhibited exemplary academic achievements and a commitment to leadership and community service. The scholarships fund one year of post-graduate study at an Irish institution.

    Founded in 1998 through an endowment from the government of Ireland, the US-Ireland Alliance was established to create stronger future relations between the United States and Ireland by linking potential future American leaders to the country through the scholarship program.

    McMillan will begin his year of study in the fall of 2007 at Queens University in Belfast, where he plans to earn a master of the arts in political philosophy.

    “Receiving this scholarship has been extremely humbling,” McMillan said. “It reminds me more than anything how much I owe to my friends, family, students and teachers for helping to open these doors.”

    At Chicago, McMillan served as a Student Marshall and was one of three student speakers at his 2005 commencement. He also received the Morton-Murphy Award, given by the University to students who demonstrate outstanding contributions to the community. During his first year in the College, McMillan was a co-founder of the College’s ACLU chapter. He received his degree in Philosophy with special honors.

    McMillan spent the summer of 2006 working as a research assistant to Canadian political scientist Susan Thompson, who was conducting research on post-genocide policies in Rwanda. While in Rwanda, McMillan “coordinated funding and support for the founding of an ethnically integrated Rwandan association that encouraged job training and economic development,” he said.

    For the last two years, McMillan has been teaching fourth and fifth graders in the Bronx, New York, through Teach for America. Additionally, he teaches classes in Shakespeare outside of school hours, and he has helped create a student hip-hop dance team. McMillan’s dedication to his students has paid off. At the end of his first year of teaching he noticed marked improvements in both their reading and mathematics skills, he said.

    “While teaching has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life, my students continually inspire me,” he said. “Their intelligence and creativity in the face of overwhelming odds reminds me of why we can never stop fighting for educational equity.”

    The Mitchell scholarships are named for Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sen. George J. Mitchell, who served as chairman of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and who served in the U.S. Senate from 1982 to 1994, representing the state of Maine. Mitchell also was Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995, and former President Bill Clinton offered Mitchell a seat on the United States Supreme Court, though Mitchell declined.

    During the 1990s, Mitchell served as a leader in the Northern Ireland peace process. In 1998, the Irish voters in both Northern and Southern Ireland supported the Belfast Peace Agreement. His work on the agreement was, in part, what led to his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.