November 21.

Paul Shorkey ’11 and Laurence Deschamps-Laporte ’11 named Rhodes Scholars

Our deepest congratulations to Paul Shorkey ’11 and Laurence Deschamps-Laporte ’11! Each has been awarded a 2011 Rhodes Scholarship, recognized as one of the most prestigious academic awards in the world.

Paul and Laurence join a long tradition of Morehead-Cain Scholars who have gone on to win the Rhodes. Since the first class of Morehead Scholars graduated in 1957, 29 of UNC-Chapel Hill’s 32 Rhodes Scholars have been graduates of the Morehead-Cain Program.

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“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. 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.”

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 wants to help people like those she has seen 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.

Morehead-Cain international experiences have taken Deschamps-Laporte to places where she could make a difference. Her second 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.

She gives presentations to K-12 students about Muslim women, Islam, Arabic and Quebec; she has 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 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. “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 also co-founded an undergraduate peer advising system. He 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.

Now Shorkey is busy planning to teach 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.”

Read the full press release from UNC News Services

Read the Daily Tar Heel story about this year's Rhodes winners