Senior receives prestigious national scholarship
For one IU student, a passion for civic engagement and public service has turned into an academic honor only three other Hoosiers have received. \nSenior Katie Claussen is one of 12 students nationwide to receive the 2006-2007 George J. Mitchell Scholarship. A product of the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, the award began in 1998 and is named after former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, known for his contributions to peace efforts in Northern Ireland. Awarded to individuals who demonstrate the highest level of achievement and academic promise, the Mitchell Scholarship will cover the cost of housing and tuition for Claussen, an Indiana Daily Student staff member, to attend graduate school in Ireland. \nBorn in Bloomington, Claussen entered IU as a 2002-2003 Wells Scholar, then living in Bethlehem, Penn. Both of Claussen's parents had worked for IU for more than 25 years, so returning to Bloomington for school was a "natural choice." Claussen approached her freshman year with an open mind, availing herself to all the opportunities of travel and networking through the Wells program and allowing her involvements to shift with her interests. \n"I came in as a chemistry major, so things have definitely changed," Claussen said. \nNow a senior with a double major in comparative social policy and ideology in the Individualized Major Program and Spanish, Claussen's experiences with overseas travel have created a passion for international affairs. After spending a semester in Denmark the fall of her junior year, Claussen "fell in love with Europe." This past summer, Claussen interned at the British Parliament in Brussels. Less than one month ago, Claussen worked with the U.S. Embassy in Trinidad as an assistant to the political chief, working on a human rights report. She allowed her interests to shift to civic engagement and public service on both local and international levels.\nCharlene Brown, associate director of the Wells Scholars program, has been described as "instrumental" by Claussen, regarding Claussen's success at IU. Brown, who has worked closely with Claussen, said she admired Claussen's ability to pull her interests together, while using the ability to use interactive technology to connect the University with leaders elsewhere. \n"I'm amazed by what she can accomplish," Brown said. \nAlthough Claussen is involved with many organizations on campus and has had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Mexico, Austria and many other places to conduct research or study Spanish, the project Claussen is most proud of is Conversations about Service and Engagement. CASE is a series of interactive video conferences connecting IU students with students around the world. Students discuss issues such as global citizenship and public service. \n"We need to be more interactive with our peers around the world," Claussen said. "We can learn a lot from international exchange." \nThis February, Americans for Informed Democracy, an organization for which Claussen is regional coordinator, will be holding a Global Citizenship Conference. Students from Africa and Europe will meet with Claussen and other IU students to speak on the topic of global citizenship. AID will host a speaker from the United Nations as well. \nAlthough Claussen describes herself as spoiled when it comes to the opportunities she has had and the type of support she has received from family members and mentors, she urges students to become engaged citizens in their local communities, especially on the Bloomington campus. \n"Every minute of every day something is happening here," she said. "If you just sit in your room, you're going to miss it." \nClaussen will attend Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland, to pursue a degree in international politics as it concerns European citizenship. She plans to become an international judge.