2009 grad wins Rotary scholarship to study in Ireland
June 17, 2010 By Marla Sweitzer
student, visited the Great Wall of China in 2007. Henry recently
received a Rotary scholarship to study in Ireland.
While visiting Beijing, Henry toured Gong Wang Fu, or the Prince
Gong’s Palace. Henry describes his study abroad experiences as
Michael Henry ’09 recently received a 2010-11 scholarship from the Rotary Foundation to study at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he will work towards a Master's in Law (LL.M.) in International Human Rights Law.
Henry, a mathematics and Spanish double major and history minor from Maryville, Tenn., views the opportunity as an essential step towards a career that will contribute to eradicating discrimination. After completing the program, Henry plans to attend law school in the United States.
“Although Ireland is a modern, fairly liberal western European state, the country is fairly poor and very religious—not unlike Tennessee,” Henry says. “To witness how Irish society, identity and culture have changed over the past 20 years will be helpful for me as I plan to help affect change at home.”
Henry will continue living in Madrid, where he is finishing his Fulbright fellowship, before heading to Ireland. As part of his Fulbright, Henry works as a teacher’s assistant in an inner-city secondary school. Working in the bilingual program, he has also taught teenagers about the United Nations, human rights issues and discrimination against minorities.
“Bilingualism opens up a different way of thinking, a different way of being. To quote a famous person, ‘possessing a second language is to possess a second soul,’” he says.
After his time in Madrid, Henry will spend the remainder of his summer in Antas de Ulla, Galicia, in northwestern Spain, where he will work at a Children's International Summer Villages camp. The non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization has a worldwide network of local chapters that promote peace education, leadership training, cross-cultural understanding and international friendships. This will be Henry’s third summer working for the organization.
Like many of the College’s alumni, Henry calls his experiences abroad as a Centre student “eye-opening.” He traveled abroad three times as a Centre student: Strasbourg in the summer of 2007, Merida, Mexico, in the fall of 2007, and Cameroon, Africa, in January 2009.
While in Strasbourg, Henry was able to visit and study the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the European Union’s European Parliament.
In the CentreTerm course “African Politics/Civil Society: the case of Cameroon,” Henry “attended lectures given by state prosecutor and women's and children's rights advocate, Vera Ngassa” and “witnessed panel discussions addressing the struggle of women's rights and international diplomacy in Africa,” he says.
As a student at Centre, Henry was president of the campus’s Rotaract Club, a local and international community service organization. “On campus, we helped and funded advocacy campaigns, for example, about women’s and children’s rights in Cameroon,” Henry says.
Henry also tutored the children of a Mexican family in Danville through the Centro Latino, a community center for Hispanics near Centre where students and professors work with local Latinos to help them to become better integrated into the community.
“Witnessing injustice and struggling with generating awareness, I left Kentucky often, ready to learn about international bodies that fight for human rights,” Henry says.
In his abroad experiences, Henry has learned that living outside the United States is more than mere travelling and escape.
“Absorbing another culture through making friends, learning languages and stepping way out of my comfort zone have been some of the most meaningful experiences of my life,” Henry says.