Auburn senior wins Mitchell Scholarship to study in Northern Ireland

Marian RoystonAUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University senior Marian Royston has been awarded one of the nation’s most selective fellowships, the Mitchell Scholarship, to study in Northern Ireland next year, announced Saturday by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance.

Royston, of Roanoke, Ala., will pursue a master’s degree in leadership for sustainable rural development at Queens University Belfast in Northern Ireland. She is an Auburn Honors College student majoring in history and double-minoring in political science and community and civic engagement in the College of Liberal Arts. She becomes Auburn’s first recipient in the Mitchell Scholars Program, which began in 2000.

“Marian is an excellent student and will represent Auburn well in her overseas studies,” Auburn President Jay Gogue said.

The program, named to honor former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process, is sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance to introduce future American leaders to the island of Ireland. Only 12 students in the U.S. are selected annually for the fellowship that is based on scholarship, leadership and a commitment to community and public service.

“Marian is a conscientious, kind and caring individual,” said Paul Harris, Auburn University associate director for national prestigious scholarships. “I do not have the words to adequately express my supreme confidence in Marian as someone who will change the world for the better. She is going places and is going to leave a mark.”

In addition to her studies at Auburn, Royston has participated in the Appalachian Community Development Alternative Spring Break; she is an afterschool tutor at Notasulga Middle School and High School; she has been an on-campus resident assistant at Auburn for the past three years; and last summer she was a Living Democracy Fellow in Hobson City, Alabama’s first African-American municipality.

“I am very honored to be selected for the Mitchell Scholarship,” Royston said. “Entering Auburn, I knew I wanted to prepare myself to positively influence the lives of others living in rural towns like my hometown of Roanoke, so I decided on a career in public interest law.

“In retrospect, I realize that I neither fully understood the magnitude of the rural crisis nor believed that there was a way I could personally work toward fixing the problem. My college experiences have helped me find the link between my past and future while still allowing me the opportunity to impact the world in a meaningful way.”

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