2011 UMW Graduate Receives Fulbright Scholarship

University of Mary Washington graduate Michele Alexander has been selected to receive a U.S. Fulbright grant for 2011-2012. She becomes the eighth student in the university’s history to receive the prestigious award, bringing to six the number of Fulbright grants awarded at UMW in the past four years alone.

The scholarship will enable Alexander to study healthcare policies toward children affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which released radiation into Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Beginning in September, Alexander will spend the academic year in Ukraine conducting research.

“We’re all very proud of Michele’s achievement, and wish her well with her research agenda in Ukraine,” said Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history. “I am quite confident that she will make UMW proud representing the Fulbright program in the Chernobyl region.”

In Ukraine, Alexander will research the health of children affected by the Chernobyl accident, government policies and organizations that help alleviate the children’s needs and additional policies necessary to address children’s health. She will work with professors and scholars from a local university and institute as she conducts her research, in addition to completing coursework at the university.

Alexander was inspired to select the topic based on her family’s experiences with the Children of Chernobyl program, which provides health recuperation respites to children impacted by the disaster. For several summers when Alexander was a teenager, her family hosted a child and program chaperone from the affected region. She has been interested in the topic ever since, she said.

“I feel that this is an important topic to study because while there are numerous materials available about Chernobyl and its effects, none focus on the children and their specific healthcare needs.” said Alexander. “I hope to determine what the affected children need and how to address it so they can lead healthy, normal lives.”

Alexander graduated from UMW with honors in May. She received a degree in political science with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies and a minor in economics.

At UMW, Alexander was active in several organizations. She worked for the Office of Residence Life for three years, serving as a resident assistant and building supervisor. In addition, Alexander was a university tour guide and vice president of finance for Alpha Mu Sigma. She participated in the Young Women’s Leaders Program and served as historian and webmaster for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and as president of Pi Sigma Alpha.

Alexander has twice been named to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges” and is a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the economics honor society. She is a four-time recipient of a UMW Scholastic Excellence Scholarship.

In addition, she is a 2009 alumna of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership’s College Leaders Program at the University of Virginia.

Upon her return to the U.S., Alexander plans to attend graduate school and study international health policy. She hopes to apply her research and degrees toward a career that improves health care programs in the U.S. or abroad.