Cristen L. Duncan of Westford, Mass., awarded IREX Young Leaders Fellowship to Russia


Image: Cristen Lee DuncanCristen Lee Duncan, a resident of Westford, Mass., who in May graduated cum laude from Fairfield University, has been named a Russian-U.S. Young Leadership Fellow. The program is managed by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and is administered by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX).

Cristen will be studying the Russian political system and analyzing the influence that Stalin has in the current political climate in Russia at The International Institute of Economics, Law and Management in Nizhny Novgorod, the third largest city in Russia. As part of the fellowship, she will be volunteering 10 hours a week in an area related to her studies.

She will also be doing an internship the following summer. The various experiences, she says, will help her develop "a valuable and more accurate understanding of Russian history as well as the political system, which cannot be achieved through research and books alone."

Dr. Beverly Kahn, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Fairfield, explained that the IREX grants were established during the Cold War when Russia instituted the IREX Young Leadership Fellows for Public Service Program as a way to send scholars to do research in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. They are comparable, she said, to the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, and continue to today, even though Russia has joined the Fulbright program.

Cristen, who majored in International Studies and minored in Russian and East European Studies, took part in Fairfield's summer study program in St. Petersburg, Russia following her first year at Fairfield. Awarded a National Security Education Program scholarship, she spent the fall semester of her junior year studying in Moscow where she worked with ACDI/VOCA, a U.S. non-profit agricultural assistance organization.

An intern for the Russian and East European Studies Department at Fairfield, Cristen has worked for the last three years with exchange students from the former Soviet Republics, helping them to acclimate to academic life in the United States.

She was a driving force behind the establishment of an Amnesty International Chapter at Fairfield and last year was inducted into Sigma Iota Rho, the international studies honor society.

Cristen graduated from Westford Academy where a history course during her sophomore year sparked an interest in Russian history. At Westford Academy, she was a member of the National Honor Society, captain of the tennis team, and a teacher and tutor in the Academic Development Center. In addition, she was a volunteer for four years with the Westford Nursing Home.

To contact Cristen for an interview, please call her at (978) 692-2078. She will be leaving the country on August 10.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 1, 2001

Vol. 34, No. 8