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U. of I. student one of 35 national winners of graduate scholarship

Julie Chami
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Julie Chami


Melissa Mitchell, News Editor
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Recent University of Illinois graduate Goylette (Julie) Chami, of Washington, Ill., is one of 35 students nationally to receive a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship to fund graduate studies beginning in fall 2008.

Chami, a James Scholar and University Bronze Tablet recipient, graduated with bachelor’s degrees in economics and in political science in May.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation – a private, independent foundation established in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke to help young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education – selected Chami from among nearly 1,000 nominations submitted by colleges and universities across the country. Each institution is able to nominate up to two students.

The graduate scholarships cover tuition, room, board, fees and books – up to $50,000 annually – for a maximum of six years. Selection of scholarship recipients is based on academic ability, financial need, will to succeed, leadership, public service, critical thinking ability and an appreciation of art and the humanities.

Chami received funding for the entire six years and will use the award first toward a master of philosophy degree in development at the University of Cambridge, England, and later, to pursue a doctorate in economics.

Chami was only on campus for three years, having studied in Hungary and interning at a law firm in Syria, “yet the quality of her interactions with diverse Illinois faculty was remarkable,” said David Schug, director of the Illinois Office of Scholarships for International Studies.

In her James Scholar honors projects, Chami “embarked first to understand fundamental national issues before focusing on international development,” Schug said. Her subsequent research projects spanned the fields of business, economics and political science.

“Julie is full of initiatives, but more impressive is their actualization,” Schug said. “Julie lined up faculty to participate and led competitively selected undergraduates to Croatia to study micro-financing initiatives in rural areas during winter break. Her venture likely will become a regular partnership between Illinois students, philanthropic associations, and Croatian students and organizations.”

He added that her initiative has led to the development of a new student organization on campus, Entrepreneurs Without Borders.

Before heading to Cambridge this fall, Chami is continuing a project with various faculty members on well establishment and water-borne pathogens in Central-East Africa. Her career plans include working as a policy consultant for a leading development agency and later as an academic to improve human capital in developing areas.