Ode to the Mitchells

When I first found out that I received the Mitchell Scholarship, I remember scanning through the bios of the other recipients and feeling slightly intimidated at their long lists of accolades, language proficiencies, and academic credentials. This was, undoubtedly, a group of accomplished young people who had achieved a great deal in their short lives. After spending six months in Ireland getting to know the Mitchell scholars, I must say that the carefully crafted narratives don’t begin to tell the full story of character and integrity of these individuals.

Thanks to my travels around Ireland and my apartment – which is relatively spacious and thus has become a de facto Mitchell hostel for those passing through Dublin — I’ve gotten to know each of the Mitchells. When this year ends, I will think fondly of my trip to the Aran Islands with Tom, weekends in Cork visiting Flan and Jon, lunches with Wardah, Halloween in Dublin with the entire Mitchell class, and weekly dinners with Harry and Lucas. Whenever Alabama football is playing on TV, I will think of Marian and Sarah’s fanatic devotion and impressive acumen of Auburn and University of Alabama football. And when I sit down to enjoy a breakfast buffet, I will always think of Mark.

A few weekends ago, we all came together for a mid-year retreat in Belfast, where we toured the murals, crossed the rickety Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and learned about the history of the Northern Ireland-Ireland conflict and ongoing peace process. As I rode home and reflected on the weekend, I realized how much I have learned in conversation with my fellow Mitchells. Our class is a diverse mix of personalities, backgrounds, interests, and talents, but these differences breed interesting, lively conversation and have exposed me to ideas and perspectives I might not have heard otherwise.

Our generation is often accused of being dilettantes, flipping from one activity or interest to the next as we do with apps on our smartphones. Spend an hour with my Mitchell class, and you’ll be convinced otherwise. It’s hard not to be optimistic about the future of our country when you meet these incredible young people.

I can’t believe there are just four months left in my time in Ireland. As the year winds down, our class is beginning to solidify plans for when we return to the States. Many are heading off to prestigious graduate programs while others are planning to return to the workplace. Regardless of where we all end up, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this talented class of Mitchell Scholars.

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