CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Senior Carmen Berg of East Grand Forks, N.D., whose appetite for studying abroad was whetted when she won a Kawamura Fellowship to travel to Japan two summers ago, has been named MIT's first winner of the prestigious Churchill Scholarship in 10 years.
Students at 57 US universities are eligible for the one-year scholarships, which pay full tuition, a living allowance of $7,200-$9,000 and $500 for travel to do graduate work in engineering, mathematics and science at Churchill College, Cambridge University. About 10 scholarships are awarded nationwide each year to students who are US citizens.
Ms. Berg, 22, who will receive the SB in biology and chemical engineering in June, will pursue a master's degree in epidemiology in the United Kingdom. As an undergraduate, she has worked on research projects involving the effect heparin has on arterial cells at a Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) laboratory. After her year at Cambridge, Ms. Berg plans to attend medical school or complete an Md/PhD program.
Ms. Berg's family hails from Walhalla, N.D., a town of 1,000 with one school for students from K-12. They moved to East Grand Forks when Ms. Berg was 16. "I applied to MIT just to see if I'd get in," she recalled. "I didn't think I'd come here. But I thought I'dï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½like to study engineering and experience somewhere new. Most people at home asked me, 'Why do you want to go so far from home for college?'"
Ms. Berg's adventurous spirit showed itself at age 14 when she traveled to Texas to attend a summertime research program at Prairie View A & M College. When she arrived, she discovered she was the only white student in the program. "That gave me a whole new perspective,"ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½she said. "It helped open my mind. I learned about life, about different people. I was uncomfortable at first, but by the end of the month I didn't even notice that I was different."
Churchill College was founded in 1959 to honor the memory of the UK's World War II prime minister by providing a center for education in science and technology. The Winston Churchill Foundation of America, also founded in 1959, sponsors the scholarship program for US students.
Ms. Berg's parents, Steve, a mason, and Jody, a bookkeeper, still live in East Grand Forks with her 11-year-old brother, Jonathan, who is in the sixth grade. Her sister, Carrie, is a freshman at the University of North Dakota.