Elizabeth Sell ‘17 was selected as one of the twelve George J. Mitchell Scholars nationwide in the 2018 class for the program, according to the US-Ireland Alliance.
The goal of the scholarship “is to provide tomorrow's leaders with an understanding about, an interest in, and an affinity for the island of Ireland,” according to its website.
Sell, concentrating in chemistry, is a medical technician with the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, and a Diversity Peer Educator. She previously worked as a research assistant at the Children’s National Medical Center.
“[The University] taught me that in order to be a leader in medicine I have to be constantly and critically engaging with greater social issues in my communities, both on campus and off campus,” she wrote in an email.
Sell has also worked as an undergraduate preceptor for organic chemistry, led a breakout trip to New York City to explore issues related to access to healthcare for the trans community, and conducted an international service trip to Ghana to explore the problem of electronic waste at Agbogbloshie, the center of industrial e-waste, with a $20,000 grant.
Sell noted, "these trips allowed me to put post-heroic leadership and design thinking strategies into action in service-oriented experiences.”
This last year has been formative for Sell, as they realized how gender plays an influential role in the American healthcare system.
“American medicine was originally designed for the [cisgendered], heterosexual white male patient, and this continues to present challenges to patient-focused and holistic patient care,” she wrote, citing the misdiagnosis of heart attacks in women as an example of how studying only male patients can be detrimental.
"The emergence of gender studies as an academic discipline played a significant role in advancing this research area, and consequently thousands of lives have been saved as a result of the new AHA guidelines," she said.
Chemistry professor Martin Semmelhack said that as a student in organic chemistry, Sell "stood out in the large organic class as someone who was doing well, no problems with the material, but still came to the office hour/ review sessions."
"[Sell] impressed as someone looking for the complete answer and with a lot of interest," he added. “I was really pleased when [Sell] was one of the first to volunteer as a precept TA for this semester.”
Sell intends to become a physician and will study Gender, Sexuality, and Culture at University College Dublin in September with the scholarship, which allows recipients to spend a year of post-graduate study in Ireland.
“A Masters in Gender, Sexuality and Culture will give me the chance to bring gender theory and queer theory into conversation with epidemiological patient data, allowing me to make much wider claims about how gender influences patient outcomes. I hope to be a voice against misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia in the American Medical Association upon my return to the United States,” Sell wrote.
The Mitchell Scholarship program was created in 2001 by Trina Vargo, the founder of the US-Ireland Alliance, a nonpartisan nonprofit created to build the US-Ireland relationship.
Recipients were chosen based on their academic distinction, leadership, and service, according to US-Ireland Alliance's press release.