University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seniors Laurence Deschamps-Laporte and Steven Paul Shorkey Jr. have won Rhodes Scholarships, the world’s oldest and best known awards for graduate study.
Deschamps-Laporte, 22, of RepEntigny, Quebec, Canada, is one of 11 winners being chosen in that country. Shorkey, 21, of Charlotte, N.C., was one of 32 Americans selected Saturday for the prestigious award, which funds study at the University of Oxford in England.
Carolina also has another candidate in contention in Canada, where not all selections have been announced. Since the Rhodes program began in 1904, Carolina has produced 47 Rhodes Scholars, as of the results announced today.
The daughter of Benoit Laporte and Anne Deschamps of RepEntigny, Deschamps-Laporte, 22, graduated in 2007 from Cegep Regional de Lanaudiere in L’Assomption.
Shorkey, the son of Steven Paul Shorkey Sr. and Meredith Alright Shorkey of Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High School in Charlotte in 2007.
Both came to Carolina on Morehead-Cain Scholarships, full, four-year scholarships to UNC that also fund four summer enrichment experiences and additional educational opportunities. Both also study in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Laurence brims with energy and enthusiasm in whatever she undertakes, whether it’s scholarship or public service,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “The Rhodes is a well deserved honor for this exceptionally bright student, and it will contribute to her future success.”
An honors student, Deschamps-Laporte has been on the dean’s list every semester. She majors in international studies with a concentration on the Middle East and a minor in Islamic studies. Shorkey is double majoring in psychology and business administration, studying the latter subject in Kenan-Flagler Business School.
He will use the scholarship to pursue master’s degrees in psychological research and neuroscience. The work will speed him to his goal of becoming a clinical psychologist who combines research with patient service. He would like to go on to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology.
“Paul’s academic achievements and leadership at Carolina have been rivaled only by his concern for people with psychological impairments,” Thorp said. “I fully expect him to accomplish groundbreaking work in that area and go on to improve the lives of many.”
Deschamps-Laporte wants to help people like those she has seen in a small community in Uganda, in desperate need of clean water, and children working in a landfill in Managua, Nicaragua.
“The Rhodes Scholarship will allow me to study in the (master’s degree) program in development studies at Oxford and become an engaged scholar in international development, working for the advancement of marginalized women around the world,” she said.
The Rhodes provides all expenses for two to three years of study; its value averages $50,000 per year, depending on a scholar’s academic field. In the United States, 309 colleges and universities endorsed 837 candidates for the Rhodes this year. Of those, 209 from 88 institutions were invited for final interviews Friday and Saturday in 16 Rhodes districts across the country. In Canada, selection dates vary by Rhodes districts.
Worldwide, about 80 scholars are chosen annually in 14 Rhodes jurisdictions. Scholars enter Oxford the following fall.
Deschamps-Laporte was imprinted for her life’s work as a child because she could not sleep as late as the rest of the family. So she watched TV, transfixed by messages from the humanitarian organization World Vision.
“I absorbed the classic images of Africa: emaciated women and children with flies in their eyes,” she said. “The effect certainly worked on me. I wondered how people could live in such poor conditions.”
Morehead-Cain international experiences have taken Deschamps-Laporte to places where she could make a difference. Her second Morehead-Cain summer experience, in Uganda, saw her in villages populated mainly by AIDS widows, who identified a need for clean water. Deschamps-Laporte helped start rainwater harvesting systems that eventually reached 450 households.
Her good deeds have not been limited to far-flung settings. She gives presentations to K-12 students about Muslim women, Islam, Arabic and Quebec; she has designed a retreat for a Carolina leadership development program, helped lead the UNC Middle Eastern Student Forum and Amnesty International chapter and assisted Arab immigrants with legal paperwork on an alternative spring break in Michigan.
Deschamps-Laporte will be well equipped physically and linguistically to take on her chosen challenges. She canoes in whitewater and runs half marathons, and she is fluent in French and English; advanced in Arabic, German and Spanish; and a beginner in Farsi and Luganda, the main language of Uganda.
“I now have met hundreds of strong and proud women who can change their communities,” she said. “They are nothing like the women I saw on television as a child. My desire is to continue to study and support their movements.”
Shorkey is one of 10 undergraduates chosen to develop and teach a for-credit course for fellow undergraduates next semester: “Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors: Suicide and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury.”
He has studied such behaviors in two campus laboratories and one at the London Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College. The National Institute of Mental Health funded one study.
Inducted last spring into Phi Beta Kappa and the psychology honor society, Shorkey is second author on a paper presented this month to the international conference of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapists.
On one of his Morehead-Cain summers, Shorkey volunteered for an organization combating HIV/AIDS in South Africa. He compiled a history of the organization, including stories of residents whom it had helped, and taught computer skills to some of its workers: “Soon nurses were using spreadsheets to record patient needs.”
An adviser or committee member in Student Government since his first year, Shorkey compiled a report on tuition to improve accountability in the annual tuition evaluation process.
He co-founded an undergraduate peer advising system and was the student leader on a committee that created an annual orientation session for students preparing to study abroad. He was on the undergraduate honor court for two years and also raised $5,000 for microcredit organizations.
Now Shorkey is at work on an honors thesis and plans for teaching his class: “Apart from current academic knowledge, the course will explore how a clinical scientist might design novel experiments to test new research questions. My research assistantship this past summer on a European-wide project examining risk-taking behaviors in 2,000 adolescents will be crucial in helping me convey the process of scientific inquiry to my students.”
About Carolina’s Rhodes Scholars:
Since the Rhodes program began in 1904, Carolina has produced 47 Rhodes Scholars, as of the results announced today. This year marks the seventh time that Carolina has had two Rhodes winners in the same year – and the second year in a row.
UNC’s total is the second most among all top public research universities nationwide. In the past five, 10 and 25 years, Carolina has produced more Rhodes Scholars than any other public research university in the United States.
Among all research universities, UNC is tied for fifth – with the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – for the most winners in the last five years, behind Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Princeton.
Among all U.S. universities, Carolina is tied for eighth with the U.S. Naval Academy for the most winners in the last 10 years, behind Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Chicago, the U.S. Military Academy and Duke.
Note: For the U.S. Rhodes news release and list of American winners, visit www.rhodesscholar.org
Morehead-Cain website: http://www.moreheadcain.org/
Canadian Rhodes website: www.canadianrhodes.org
News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589; cell (919) 219-6374