A Georgetown senior’s extensive research into organized crime has won her a coveted George J. Mitchell Scholarship for the 2006-07 academic year, university administrators announced last Friday.

Sarah Wappett (COL ’06) was one of 11 students nationwide – out of 236 applicants -selected to spend a year of graduate research in Ireland beginning this fall, where she plans to earn an M.A. in International Security and Conflict Studies from Dublin City University.

The Mitchell Scholarship is named for former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell (D-Maine, LAW ’61) in recognition of his significant contributions to the Northern Ireland peace process, according to a university press release. It is administered by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, a Washington-based nonprofit organization.

Wappett, a government major, said her studies began with a personal interest in organized crime.

“My research started with the criminal prosecutions of the Sicilian and Neapolitan Mafias in the U.S. and Italy,” she said.

“Her contribution, then, is to bring a proven, realistic and pragmatic knowledge of best practice to the still relatively new experience of the war on terror,” Georgetown Fellowship Secretary John Glavin said.

Seven Georgetown University students have received the scholarship since it was established in 1998, more than any other university in the Untied States, according to the press release. Benjamin Cote (COL ’05), who was awarded the scholarship last January, is currently enrolled at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.

With the Mitchell Scholarship, Wappett adds one more achievement to a resume which includes a John Carroll Fellowship, Big East All-Academic Honors and status as a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Scholar. She has also been a leader of the undergraduate think-tank Cluster on Organized Crime and Terror, according to the press release.

Wappett’s research is particularly important for its immediate pragmatic value to current policy decisions, Glavin said.

He added that in this way, Wappett’s study is similar to the work of last fall’s Marshall Scholarship winners, Maher Bitar (SFS ’06) and Shadi Hamid (GRD ’06). Bitar and Hamid are interested in issues concerning forced migration and the future of Islamicist politics, respectively, Glavin added.

“[What] holds them all together is what seems to me an increasing interest in the fellowship-granting bodies in student research, by which students are already contributing to public response to pressing questions, and a parallel commitment from the fellowships to students whose work has current policy implications,” Glavin said.

“It is not enough to take in knowledge,” he continued. “The superior student must also become involved in the production of knowledge.”

Wappett said that although she finds time for her work wherever she can, her research has required its share of sacrifice. After three years on the women’s soccer team, she left the team in order to focus on her research.

“When I’m not actually reading for it, I may be thinking about it on a run, or mapping out an idea on a legal pad when waiting for someone or something,” she said.

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