Athens, Ga. – For the second consecutive year, a University of Georgia Honors student has been awarded a Merage American Dream Fellowship. Katrin Usifo, a senior microbiology major from Savannah, was one of 14 students selected nationally for the two-year, $20,000 scholarship established by Paul and Lilly Merage to recognize and reward academically outstanding immigrant students.
“I am very pleased that the Merage Foundation for the American Dream has selected such a worthy recipient of their fellowship,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “Katrin is an exceptional student and a special person. She is sure to make a positive impact on society.”
The fellowship provides recipients the funds to pursue their individual “American Dream” ranging from post-graduate education to study abroad opportunities. Usifo will use the fellowship to support her attendance at medical school.
UGA is one of 22 partner universities that can nominate candidates, a maximum of three each year. Other partner universities include private institutions such as Harvard, Princeton and Stanford. Fellowship recipients have stellar academic records, demonstrated leadership, are ethically responsible, and have the potential to make significant contributions to American society.
Born in the Ukraine, Usifo immigrated to the U.S. in 1989 after living in Nigeria and Germany. During her first two years at UGA, she participated in the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) Apprentice Program, working under the guidance of Susan Sanchez, an associate professor in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Usifo continued working in Sanchez’s laboratory during her junior year and has presented her research on antibiotic resistant Salmonella at CURO’s undergraduate research symposium.
In summer 2005, Usifo also studied Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a participant in New York University’s Sackler Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). She subsequently presented that research at the Leadership Alliance Conference in Danvers, Mass.
“I am both honored and excited to be selected as a Merage American Dream Fellow,” said Usifo, who also is a UGA Foundation Fellow. “This scholarship will help me in my efforts to attend medical school and pursue a career in medicine. Through my medical training, I hope to focus on preventing diseases, promoting health, and delivering timely and appropriate medical care to our underserved communities.”
In addition to her research activities, Usifo has been active with campus organizations. She currently serves as treasurer of the UGA chapter of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS). She also is vice president of the UGA First Book Campus Advisory Board, part of an international non-profit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.
“Katrin’s family background, her stellar academic record, and her life goals made her a very strong candidate for a Merage fellowship,” said Steve Elliott-Gower, associate director of UGA’s Honors Program. “We are delighted for her, and hope to see more Merage Fellows from the University of Georgia in the future.”
The Merage American Dream Fellowship is the latest major award earned this year by students in UGA’s Honors Program. One student was named a Marshall Scholar, two others were awarded Goldwater Scholarships and another was selected as a Truman Scholar.
For more information on the Merage American Dream Fellowship, visit www.meragefoundations.com/mfad.html.
For more information on UGA’s Honors Program, visit www.uga.edu/honors.