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ILR senior is Cornell’s first Mitchell scholar


In the past week, Simon Boehme ’14 won a George J. Mitchell Scholarship and was named to a federal education panel overseen by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In May, he won a Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

The ILR School senior is the first Cornell student to receive a Mitchell Scholarship, awarded to 12 people annually since 2000; it will send him to Ireland for a year of study. And through 2019, Boehme will serve on the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.

Boehme’s resume lists roles including researcher with the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement in Mysore, India, through ILR’s Global Service Learning program; co-founder and co-president of the Cornell Global Law Brigade, which traveled to Panama in May; founder and president of Red Ideas, a Cornell organization seeking to encourage innovations geared toward improving the human condition; and White House intern (Boehme and high school classmates successfully campaigned to get President Barack Obama to speak at their graduation in Kalamazoo, Mich.).

Boehme’s honors thesis examines the new Annual Professional Performance Review teacher evaluation system in New York state, and his work in conflict management includes research at ILR’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, where he has analyzed contractual agreements between teachers and boards of education in 695 public school districts in New York state. He also crafted leadership curriculum for the African Leadership Academy that is being used in Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, South Africa and Ghana.

How does he juggle so many activities at once? Boehme emphasized the importance of finding balance. “I try to create free time, but I stay busy doing things that I love. Sleep is sometimes compromised,” he said.

Boehme plans to further his research on workplace conflict management at the National University Ireland, Maynooth; he said he is excited to study in Ireland, which has seen its share of conflict as well as successful conflict resolution.

“[The] Mitchell [Scholarship] stuck out to me because Ireland is the perfect place to study conflict resolution. Understanding their past helps me build on my ILR experience and coursework in conflict,” Boehme said.

The scholarship is named in honor George J. Mitchell, the former Maine senator and majority leader who was instrumental in peace negotiations leading to Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday Agreement, for which he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mitchell Scholarship winners study for one year at institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The program, modeled in part on the Rhodes Scholarship and the Marshall Scholarship programs, seeks well-rounded applicants with outstanding academic records, commitment to public service and a record of leadership.

Boehme plans to attend law school and hopes to return to his home state of Michigan to work as a nonprofit consultant to school districts on matters of negotiation and education management.

He said he is “humbled” by the Mitchell Scholarship: “When you put yourself through one door, many more open up. I really view this award as the culmination of my Cornell experience. I feel like this award will let me get practical experience and help me be an effective agent for change,” Boehme said.

Laura Carver is an intern in the ILR School Communications and Marketing Department.

Media Contact

John Carberry