Writing Recommendations for the Mitchell Scholarship

The mission of the George G. Mitchell scholarship is “to educate future American leaders about the island of Ireland and to provide tomorrow’s leaders with an understanding about, an interest in, and an affinity with, the island…” The US-Ireland Alliance seeks candidates who are likely to become leaders in their professional fields. Mitchell Scholars are expected to be cultural ambassadors to Ireland, and to perform well in their one-year master’s degree programs. Successful candidates will be able to flourish academically without as much structure or ongoing academic feedback as in U.S. universities. To the extent that you can comment on the candidate’s ability to thrive in this setting, please do so.

What they’re looking for:

"Persuasive, documented evidence of significant achievement in three areas: academic,leadership, and community service... Membership or participation in a long resume of extracurricular activities is less convincing than demonstrating a significant, tangible impact in the candidate's community or school. Academic excellence, leadership and community service are equally important criteria…" [from the Mitchell Scholarship web]

This program honors the work of Senator George J. Mitchell. While Mitchell Scholars may study any subject, the Scholarship seeks people whose commitments and relationships with others reflect the values underlying Senator Mitchell’s work in peacekeeping and conflict resolution. Mitchell Scholars do a lot as a group, and because there are only 10-12 of them each year, ability to contribute as a member of the team is particularly important. Scholars travel to Europe as well as in Ireland. Interest in Irish- European relationships and making people-to-people connections across borders is valued. At the same time, Mitchell Scholars must also be independent, as each is likely to be the only Scholar at a their university.

Criteria your letter should address insofar as your experience with the applicant allows:

  • Demonstrated record of intellectual distinction, leadership, and extra-curricular activity, indicating a strong potential for future leadership and contribution to society;
  • Honesty, fairness, and unselfish service to others;
  • Strong preparation for the proposed course of study.

Recommenders should know the candidate well, believe she or he is truly exceptional, and be able to write an outstanding 2-page letter discussing in very concrete terms the writer’s personal experience of outstanding accomplishment or performance by the candidate.

The Mitchell selection committee will ask for a draft of your letter before the national deadline. Instructions for uploading the letter online will follow after a decision has been made about College endorsement of candidates, so please wait until you hear from us before uploading. I am happy to talk with you about writing a recommendation for this or other fellowships, and to respond to drafts. Thanks very much for helping our applicants! Learn more about the Mitchell here.