Campus News

UGA Honors graduate named 2011-2012 Mitchell Scholar

Athens, Ga. – Betsy Katz of Thomasville, a 2009 graduate of the University of Georgia Honors Program, is one of 12 national recipients of a 2011-2012 George J. Mitchell Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in intercultural studies at Dublin City University in Ireland.

Katz, who earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics, Spanish and religion from UGA, currently is teaching secondary mathematics in Richmond, Calif. as a Teach for America participant.

This is the third consecutive year a UGA student has been named a Mitchell Scholar. Christina Faust was part of the 10th anniversary class of Mitchell Scholars for 2009-2010, and Stephen Dorner was part of the 2010-2011 class. The George J. Mitchell Scholarship program was created more than 10 years ago by Trina Vargo, former foreign policy adviser to Senator Ted Kennedy. The scholarship was named in honor of Senator Mitchell’s role as chairman of the Northern Ireland peace talks.

“For Betsy Katz to be one of only 12 recipients of a Mitchell Scholarship speaks volumes about her intelligence, her passion for her academic pursuits, her commitment to making the world a better place, and to the level of instruction and challenge she enjoyed while a UGA student,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “She now has the opportunity to pursue her studies in one of the world’s most beautiful places. I am confident that we will hear more from and about Betsy in the years to come.”

The one-year post-graduate fellowship covers studies in any discipline offered by institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Applicants are judged on three criteria: academic excellence, leadership and a sustained commitment to service and community.

As an undergraduate, Katz was the recipient of several academic scholarships, including the Ramsey Honors Scholarship, one of UGA’s most prestigious awards.She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and Blue Key Honor Society.

Katz’s commitment to teaching, service-learning and civic engagement influenced her research and community involvement during her undergraduate career. In summer 2008, she was one of eight participants working with mathematics faculty at the University of North Carolina, Asheville through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

In spring 2009, she presented her Honors thesis research at UGA’s annual Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities symposium. Her research, entitled “Translating ‘the Jews’ in the Fourth Gospel,” was chosen as an example of outstanding undergraduate work and published in the “Best of CURO 2009” issue of UGA’s Journal for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, an online undergraduate research journal for the arts, humanities and social sciences.

In preparation for her current teaching position, Katz served as a Spanish-English interpreter and tutor for the Clarke County School District and as an ESOL teacher, developing and teaching the curriculum through Casa de Amistad, a service organization helping underserved Hispanic populations in Athens. She also volunteered as a Spanish translator at Mercy Health Center, a medical clinic for the uninsured in Athens, and as a tutor for middle school students.

Katz took her service-learning spirit abroad and volunteered at an assisted living facility through the UGA en Buenos Aires program in Argentina in fall 2006 and also worked as an ESOL teacher in Mexico in the summers of 2009 and 2010.

“Betsy has uncommon abilities and promise,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “She is now serving as a teacher, a mentor, and a diversity and inclusiveness facilitator. She intends to become a leader at the national level in the resolution of ethnic conflict in the United States. Her energy is astounding, and her commitment is inspiring. There is no question that she will make a very positive impact on society.”

For more information on the Mitchell Scholarship, see

For more information on UGA’s Honors Program, see