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March 7: Carnegie Mellon Engineering Student Receives Prestigious Churchill Scholarship To Study in England


Chriss Swaney                       

Carnegie Mellon Engineering Student Receives
Prestigious Churchill Scholarship To Study in England

PITTSBURGH — Carnegie Mellon University senior Courtney Ondeck, a double major in biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering, is one of 13 students nationwide to receive the prestigious Churchill Scholarship for graduate work during the 2008-09 academic year at Cambridge University in England.

Ondeck"I'm really excited about this new opportunity to learn and work with top international researchers," said Ondeck, the first Churchill Scholar at Carnegie Mellon since 1992. "It's going to be a big thrill just to be attending the same institution where the famed Sir Isaac Newton once studied."

The 21-year-old from McMurray, Pa., will study in the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge, where she will pursue a graduate degree and her research interests in the biomedical applications of nanoparticles.

Since 1963, The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States has sent more than 400 Churchill Scholars to the University of Cambridge. The one-year, $50,000 scholarship pays for Ondeck's tuition and fees, living expenses and round trip airfare to Churchill College, one of the 31 colleges specializing in engineering and science studies at the historic University of Cambridge, founded in 1209.

"Competition was especially intense this year with the number of applications up 62 percent, and with applicants including some of the strongest scholars in the country," said Peter C. Patrikis, executive director of the New York-based Winston Churchill Foundation. "Courtney joins an astonishing elite group of young men and women whose academic talents and achievements are matched by their personal qualities and contributions to their communities."

Universities could nominate two candidates for the prestigious award. At Carnegie Mellon, the selection process was handled by the university's Fellowships and Scholarships Office.

"This prestigious award is a reflection of the quality students our top-ranked engineering program attracts and the leading-edge, global research our students are exposed to," said Pradeep K. Khosla, dean of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering. "We congratulate Courtney for being named a Churchill Scholar as she prepares to begin using all the important problem-solving skills she honed so successfully during her past four years at Carnegie Mellon."

Michael McHenry, a professor of materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon, praised Courtney for her dedication to academics and research.

"She has received more 'A' grades from me than any other undergraduate student that I have instructed in the past 18 years at Carnegie Mellon. These grades reflect a particular persistence and patience in learning," McHenry said.

Ondeck admits that her persistence in learning began as a child. She recalls spending hours playing doctor and using her stuffed toys as patients. She plans to attend medical school to become a medical doctor and researcher. 

In addition to being named a Churchill Scholar, Ondeck also was named an Andrew Carnegie Society Scholar, and is a member of the Lambda Sigma Honor Society, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the Mortar Board Honor Society and the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. She has worked as a volunteer at the Hillman Cancer Institute and was a clinical volunteer for a month in Vietnam. She has also studied concert piano.

This year's Churchill Scholars represent 11 institutions. In addition to Carnegie Mellon, the other schools receiving the honor are Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Haverford College, Michigan State University, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Rochester.