Eastern Kentucky University’s Tyler Swafford has a full day lined up Saturday.
The EKU quarterback will spend his morning in Washington, D.C., interviewing for a prestigious Mitchell Scholarship. He’ll then fly back to Kentucky to play in the Colonels’ 2 p.m. home game against Eastern Illinois at Roy Kidd Stadium.
The George J. Mitchell Program offers a national, competitive scholarship sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance. The scholarship has become so popular, EKU officials said, that in the previous three years, of the 10 individuals to be offered both a Mitchell Scholarship and a Rhodes Scholarship interview, eight opted for the Mitchell.
Swafford, an EKU Honors Scholar, has a 4.0 grade-point-average while majoring in globalization and international affairs, and minoring in business.
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From more than 300 applicants, 80 were selected as semifinalists and of those, 20 were chosen as finalists. Those 20 will be cut to no more than 12 through the interview process Saturday.
The Mitchell Scholarship Program, named to honor former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell's pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process, is designed to introduce and connect generations of future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while recognizing and fostering intellectual achievement, leadership, and a commitment to community and public service.
Up to 12 Mitchell Scholars between the ages of 18 and 30 are chosen annually for one academic year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Applicants are judged on three criteria: scholarship, leadership, and a sustained commitment to community and public service.
The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides tuition, accommodation, a stipend for living expenses and travel.
“It’s a big honor, considering the prestige of the award,” Swafford said in an EKU news release. “To get a chance to study in Ireland would be amazing. More than anything, I’m really excited for EKU and to be able to represent them through this process. The honors program here has been very helpful to me.”
Swafford, a redshirt sophomore, has started three games this season, including each of the past two contests. He has thrown for 860 yards and has five touchdowns. He also has a rushing touchdown. Two weeks ago, the Brentwood, Tenn., native threw for a career-best 289 yards against Murray State.
“Tyler Swafford embodies all the values you look for in a student-athlete,” EKU head coach Mark Elder said. “He excels as a student, carrying a 4.0 GPA, and is a true competitor on the field. I’m very proud of what he has accomplished both in both aspects and he has a very bright future ahead of him.”