Rebecca Mitchell is honored by Glamour magazine as one of its top 10 college women for 2006.
Adapted from a story by Rick Moore, University Relations. Until recently, Rebecca Mitchell had received minimal media attention—despite her receipt of the prestigious 2006 Harry S. Truman Scholarship (certainly no small potatoes). But Mitchell's most recent brush with fame has her worn out—from the multiple interviews and photo shoots that came with it.
The media arrived when Glamour magazine named Mitchell one of its top 10 college women in the nation for 2006. The honor recognizes campus and community involvement, excellence in the students' field of study, leadership experience, and unique, inspiring goals.
An honors student in biology, society, and the environment, Mitchell plans to pursue a combined doctorate and master's degree in public health. She's been on the parliamentary debate team for the last three years, worked as a research assistant at the U's Stem Cell Institute in embryonic stem cell research, and worked with the Medical School's Positive Youth Development Program.
Perhaps the most pivotal experience for Mitchell came during the summer of 2005, when she traveled to Kenya to do volunteer work, with dual placements at an orphanage and a local hospital. At the hospital, she worked at an STI (sexually transmitted infection) clinic, where many women who had been monogamous discovered they had contracted HIV from their husbands.
Moved by the women's plight, Mitchell set her sights on a career in public health with a focus on women's reproductive health. And, partly out of her dissatisfaction with the volunteer agency that arranged her placements in Kenya, she decided to make things easier for future volunteers. So she founded the Student Project Africa Network (SPAN), a nonprofit organization that she runs with four other students serving on a volunteer executive board.
Of course then there's the Glamour-ous life, three jam-packed September days in New York City, where Mitchell and her co-honorees spent time with top female professionals and were “wined and dined." The experience “celebrated the multifaceted woman," Mitchell says. “It was great."
The three-day whirlwind also gave Mitchell newfound respect for Glamour magazine. “It's a woman's struggle to not be put in a box," she says, adding that the magazine is dedicated to empowering women and recognizing their achievements.
Update: In February 2007, Mitchell was named one of USA Today's All-USA College Academic First Team. The group was selected from almost 600 students nominated by their schools.