Six named 2008 Scholars in the Nation's Service

Cynthia Barmore  

Shannon Brink  

Michael Konialian  

Emily Norris  

Brendan Reilly  

Michael Shapiro Photos:  Sameer Khan

More supporters of government service program announced

The University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has selected six students to be the 2008 cohort of Scholars in the Nation's Service, chosen from a pool of Princeton juniors interested in pursuing careers in the U.S. federal government.

In addition, the school announced several new alumni supporters of the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative, which was launched at Princeton in 2006.

The six newly named Scholars in the Nation's Service will spend their final three semesters in college completing their majors, taking selected courses in public policy, learning about career opportunities in the federal government and spending the summer after their junior year in a federal government internship.

After graduation the students will be known as Charles and Marie Robertson Government Service Scholars and will serve for two years in the federal government. They will then return to the Woodrow Wilson School to enroll in the two-year master in public affairs (MPA) program.

"Two years ago, the Woodrow Wilson School launched the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative, and today I'm proud to say the program is a success," said Nolan McCarty, acting dean of the Woodrow Wilson School. "We have a new group of outstanding students interested in serving their country in government, and our current scholars are anxious to begin their two-year assignments in government departments and agencies."

All Princeton juniors who are U.S. citizens were eligible to apply for this year's cohort. Recipients were selected based on outstanding academic performance, a proven track record of accomplishment and a demonstrated commitment to public service.

The 2008 scholars are:

  • Cynthia Barmore, a Woodrow Wilson School major from Arlington Heights, Ill., who hopes to enter the foreign service or the Peace Corps. She speaks Serbo-Croatian and Turkish, and has spent time working in Bosnia. Barmore founded a service organization doing volunteer work in Trenton, and is president of Princeton Against Protectionism. She will spend the spring semester in a Wilson School policy task force in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Shannon Brink is a Woodrow Wilson School major from Denver, Colo., who has ambitions to work for the U.S. Agency for International Development or the foreign service in Latin America. She is fluent in Spanish. Although she is not an engineer, Brink is active in Engineers Without Borders. She will be going to Santiago, Chile, for a Wilson School spring policy task force.
  • Michael Konialian, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major earning a Wilson School certificate, is from Studio City, Calif. He has been a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Konialian hopes to work as a policy staff member at NASA or the White House. He also hopes to run for elected office.
  • Emily Norris is a Woodrow Wilson School major from Brookline, Mass., and studies Middle East issues, specifically Iran. She speaks Farsi, French and Arabic. Norris spent summer 2006 at American University in Beirut, and had to be evacuated when fighting escalated between Israeli and Hezbollah forces. She has studied overseas in Oxford, England, and Hamburg, Germany, was a journalist for a summer in Thailand, and will be spending the spring at the Wilson School's new policy task force in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Brendan Reilly is a politics major from McLean, Va. He is in the process of joining the U.S. Marine Corps, and has already done officer training at Quantico. Reilly also is interested in working at the U.S. departments of defense or state, or at the Defense Intelligence Agency.
  • Michael Shapiro, a Woodrow Wilson School major from Avon, Conn., is interested in health policy and economic policy. He would like to work in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or on Capitol Hill. He is executive editor for the Web at The Daily Princetonian, Princeton's student newspaper.

The recipients were notified in December 2007 of their successful candidacies and will be honored at a private dinner hosted by the Woodrow Wilson School in March.

The Woodrow Wilson School and the Partnership for Public Service, a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing public service, will work with the selected scholars to match their skills with substantive work in the federal government. In particular, in keeping with the mission of the Robertson Foundation, scholars will be encouraged to pursue careers in those areas of the federal government that are concerned with international relations and affairs.

"The Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative at Princeton will add to the ranks of highly skilled and talented federal government servants," said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. "The government, however, needs a critical mass of new talent to succeed retiring federal employees over the next five years. We hope the initiative can be a best-practice model for other institutions of higher learning."

Princeton formally launched the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative in February 2006. In February 2007 the Woodrow Wilson School expanded the existing program by an additional five four-year scholarships for any U.S. citizens who apply for enrollment in the school's MPA program.

The purposes of the scholarship program, modeled after the Rhodes and Marshall scholars, are twofold. The first is to raise the prestige of government service among an entire generation of college students and to encourage these students to enter government service. The second is to provide exceptional students with opportunities to experience government service first-hand and to gain the skills and contacts they will need to succeed in government service. The Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative will help draw the very best students into the school and into government service.

Special activities for students during the remainder of their undergraduate studies are made possible through generous support by individual donors, the newest of which is the James D. Zirin Class of 1961 and Marlene Hess Scholars in the Nation's Service Fund. Jeffrey and Elizabeth Peek have also recently provided funding to support the expansion of the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative.

James Zirin, a trial lawyer for more than 30 years, is a partner in Sidley Austin LLP and has served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Zirin is a member of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Commission to Combat Police Corruption and of the dean's advisory board of the Wilson School. Marlene Hess is vice president of the Hess Foundation Inc. and formerly served as managing director of Global Philanthropic Services at JP Morgan Private Bank and director of not-for-profit relations for Chase. Hess is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Women's Forum Inc.

A 1969 graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School, Jeffrey Peek is CEO of the CIT Group Inc. Before joining the CIT Group, Peek served as the vice chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston LLC and executive vice president of Merrill Lynch & Co. Peek is also chair of the advisory council for the Bendheim Center for Finance at Princeton. Elizabeth Peek is an investment analyst and financial columnist. She is an alumna of Wellesley College.

Detailed information about the Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative from school alumni and former government officials is available online.