Daniel Strunk, a Duke University senior, and Sanette Tanaka, a 2012 Duke graduate, are among 12 Americans awarded the prestigious Mitchell Scholarship for a year of graduate study in Ireland.
Strunk, 22, of Cincinnati, plans to attend Trinity College Dublin for a master's degree in politics and public policy. Tanaka, who is from Hanover Park, Ill., and who now lives in Brooklyn, plans to earn a master's degree in creative digital media at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
"Duke is proud to have the merits of our students recognized by the Mitchell Scholarship," said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. "Sanette and Daniel took very different paths at Duke, but both made splendid use of Duke's opportunities. I congratulate them and rejoice in their success."
Strunk said studying in Europe will increase his knowledge of political systems and reform, which he hopes will allow him to better contribute to the reshaping of the Republican Party in the coming years.
"By pursuing a master's degree in political economy and public policy in Ireland, I hope to play the role of institutional ethnographer, finding the governmental structures at work in the world that can inform changes in the United States," Strunk wrote in his application statement. "I want to benefit from hearing new lines of critique, as I have at Duke, that transcend both ideological and national boundaries, and I want to offer my own critiques in return."
Strunk, who attends Duke as a Robertson Scholar, is a double major in political science and economics, with a psychology minor. His summer studies included "American constitutional structure" at the Duke in D.C. Institute on Law and Policy, and statistics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
While at Duke, Strunk established the statewide youth outreach organization for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, and has volunteered as a weekly tutor at the Emily K. Center. He is a columnist and copy editor for The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper; a Duke Lutherans peer minister and chief justice of the Duke Student Government Supreme Court. He also serves as president of Duke's chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, the Duke Political Science Standard and the Duke American Grand Strategy Council.
Tanaka, 24, works as a reporter and multimedia producer for the Mansion section of The Wall Street Journal. Her profile of poet Maya Angelou's houses made the cover of Mansion's inaugural issue in October 2012.
Tanaka plans to earn a master's degree in creative digital media at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
"The Creative Digital Media Program at the Dublin Institute of Technology matches my interests of technology and media perfectly and will help me gain both perspective and tools to develop news products," Tanaka said. "I am humbled and thrilled to have this opportunity. I am so grateful to my professors, mentors, family and friends who have helped me along the way."
While attending Duke as a public policy studies major, Tanaka served as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle, where she established the student newspaper's first-ever social media and multimedia departments. She also received the Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism.
Tanaka worked summer internships as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer. Her other work included a business internship with the Social Entrepreneur Corps -- part of her internship with Duke Engage in Guatemala -- and as a research assistant with Duke's DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. Tanaka remains a board member for the Duke Student Publishing Co., which publishes The Chronicle.
George J. Mitchell Scholarships are awarded annually to a dozen Americans under the age of 30 who exhibit the highest standards of academic excellence, leadership and community service. The awards, which can be used to pursue a year of post-graduate study at any university in Ireland, are named after the former U.S. Senate majority leader who spearheaded the historic Good Friday Agreement of 1998 that produced peace in Northern Ireland. The program seeks to link future American leaders with Ireland.