Undergrad wins Mitchell Scholarship
By Matt Kelly
T. Buckley, a fourth-year student at the University, is one of
a dozen 2004-05 George J. Mitchell Scholars selected in a nationwide
competition. The scholarship covers a year of graduate study at
universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Buckley, 21, of Baltimore, will study for a master’s degree
in comparative ethnic conflict at Queen’s University Belfast.
He is the second Mitchell Scholar in two years from U.Va. John
R. Kiess, U.Va.’s current Mitchell Scholar, is also studying
comparative ethnic conflict at Queen’s University.
“This is an opportunity to study conflict resolution in
Belfast and see it get put into practice on the ground,”
Buckley said. “You can’t get that anywhere else.”
A political and social thought and international relations major,
with a minor in religious studies, Buckley said he has always
been interested in lingering conflicts, particularly when religious
communities get involved in diplomatic efforts.
Buckley, who was thrilled to hear he had won a Mitchell, said
it came at a time when his friends were getting job offers. It
was reassuring, he said, to know what his next step would be.
Once Buckley completes his master’s program, he will begin
a Ph.D. program. While he has not ruled out a career in the foreign
service, he is attracted to teaching, much like his father, James
J. Buckley, a theology professor at Loyola University.
Buckley has no fears about going to Belfast.
“This is an exciting time to be there,” he said. “Belfast
is starting to grow the way the Republic [of Ireland] did in the
1990s. There is still some targeted violence, but not the general,
random violence, like bombs.”
Plus, Buckley said, people studying conflict resolution have to
go to places where there are conflicts.
This is not Buckley’s first foray to the Emerald Isle. He
said he spent a week in Dublin and Cork two summers ago.
“I loved the people,” he said. “It was a very
welcoming place. It only took me two days to be comfortable enough
to approach strangers on the street and strike up conversations.
Their sense of humor was incredible. I loved it, and I can’t
wait to get back.”
Buckley is president of the International Relations Organization
at U.Va. and responsible for developing weekly programs to advance
discussion of global issues, as well as founder of the Wilson
Journal of International Affairs, which features essays on foreign
policy topics by U.Va. students and faculty. He was the student
events coordinator for the Children of Abraham Institute, an international
movement of intellectuals and religious leaders who strive to
use religion as a means of international conflict resolution.
A leader in the Virginia Model United Nations Conference and the
Virginia International Simulation, he also served as an intern
in the office of the late Senator Paul D. Wellstone.
Buckley was praised by Assistant Dean Nicole F. Hurd, head of
U.Va.’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “David
has been a leader on Grounds in the field of studying international
relations,” Hurd said. “His work with the model United
Nations has demonstrated not only his scholarship but also his
ability to work with people of diverse backgrounds.”
Launched in 1998, the Mitchell Scholarship recognizes outstanding
young Americans who exhibit the highest standards of academic
excellence, leadership and community service. Administered by
the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, a non-profit organization based in
Washington, the scholarship recognizes the leadership role of
former U.S. Senator George Mitchell in the Northern Ireland peace
Mitchell Scholarships are among the most widely recognized and
intensely competitive fellowship programs in the United States.
Recipients have withdrawn from the long-established Rhodes, Marshall
and Fulbright awards to accept Mitchell Scholarships. This year’s
Mitchell competition for 12 awards drew 245 applicants from 166
colleges and universities across the country.