Brigid Mooney was the first female to attend Cambridge University’s Sidney Sussex College math program in four years. She is IUP’s first Goldwater Scholar, and she is the first to admit she procrastinates with assignments.
Few college resumes boast the caliber of Mooney’s three pages of accomplishments. Mooney was one of three hundred math, science, and engineering students nationwide to win the 2003 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. She was also a 2004 finalist in the Arizona Rhodes Scholarship Competition and a 2004 finalist in the New York Regional Marshall Scholarship Competition.
She completed her last two undergraduate semesters in England, while completing a mathematics degree and minors in history and physics.
At the fall 2004 orientation at Sidney Sussex, university coordinators divided students into groups based on academic subject.
“I was the only girl in the [math] bunch, so for a few days I was called 'the girl,’” Mooney said during the spring semester. A few days later, she said another female student arrived from Hong Kong. “... So now there are two of us, and the guys have had to learn our names.”
Lynn Botelho, history professor, joked that “getting her application in on time” for Cambridge is Mooney’s biggest academic accomplishment so far, but reiterated the importance of acceptance into the program, calling Cambridge the “college of Isaac Newton.”
Botelho taught Mooney in her first IUP semester and first honors college class and said Mooney stood out because “she excels in math and science, but possesses the sensibility and skills of a student in the humanities.”
This is not the first time Mooney, who came to IUP from Tucson, Ariz., studied abroad. In 2003, she studied mathematical problem-solving and creativity under Hungarian mathematicians in Budapest. She also studied rotational motion and philosophy of mathematics at Cambridge University science summer school in 2002. For the past two summers, she worked on encryptology at the Department of Defense. She has earned numerous awards for academic talents.
All of Mooney’s academic accomplishments come with some hesitation, said Botelho, who estimates Mooney’s only flaw as being that “she rarely admits she is smart.”
“She’s not arrogant,” Botelho said. “She hates being called smart. I think it’s because she realizes there is a responsibility for her math gifts. She knows she’s good. But she knows there are other people who are as good as she is.”
Scholarships donated by Robert E. Cook, the benefactor of the Honors College, funded much of Mooney's academic endeavors beyond IUP, said Rick Kutz, Honors College assistant director.
Mooney said she has not achieved a few things that she set out to do.
“I wasn’t awarded a graduate fellowship [Rhodes] that I applied for earlier this year, I still can’t get problem eight on my logic homework, and I never did lose those few pounds I gained in Hungary.”
She will begin a doctoral program in math at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. As an undergraduate, she said she learned that few things ever go as planned. “Maybe it’s a naive way of looking at it, but I rather like to hold out hope that it will all work out for the best, and if I fail at something now, it could be leading me on a different, better path for the future.”
Shelley Cook, a student in the Robert E. Cook Honors College, is a journalism and political science major. She studied abroad at the University of Nancy II in France and completed a year-long National Student Exchange to the University of Alabama. Cook interned with the Public Affairs Office in the United States Army at Fort Knox, Ky. She is completing a public affairs internship at the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. In the fall she will work for Pennsylvania Speaker of the House John Perzel in Harrisburg. Cook plans a May, 2006, graduation.
Honors College Highlights
Junior anthropology major Skye Flynn (right) is the first IUP student to earn a Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant. Thirty-eight $1,000 grants are awarded annually by the national honor society. Flynn, enrolled in the Robert E. Cook Honors College, will use the grant to support her participation in the Tel Rehov project, a major excavation between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee near the Jordanian border. The excavation is part of the continuing Beth-Shean Valley Archaeological Project and led by a faculty member from Institute Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Flynn, a member of Phi Kappa Phi, is a member of the Anthropology Club and has worked for IUP’s Archaeological Services. She is also the Social Service Coordinator for the Honors College.
Tom Bogacz is the first IUP student to win first prize at the annual Europe: East and West Undergraduate Research Symposium sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Center for International Studies. A senior French for International Trade and Economics major, Bogacz submitted his paper, “Investment Enigma: Determinants of U.S. Foreign Direct Investment in Europe.”
Honors College student Chelsea Grove has completed her first year as the student member of the IUP Council of Trustees. From Indiana, she is a Finance major who studied Arabic in Egypt last summer. She will continue to serve on the council through her graduation next spring. At left is Trustee Mark Holman, while Council of Trustees secretary David Osikowicz is at right.