Maysa Sitar, Secretary of East Lansing Info’s Board of Directors, has been awarded the prestigious Mitchell Scholarship, which each year funds twelve U.S.-based students to pursue graduate studies in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
Sitar was chosen from an applicant pool of 453 students based on her record of academic achievement, service, and leadership. As a Mitchell Scholar, she will study conflict transformation and social justice at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.
Sitar has a passion for democracy and electoral politics that began when she was growing up in the Upper Peninsula. In high school, she petitioned her principal to offer the PSAT (practice SAT), which had never been administered there before.
Sitar joined the ELi team after meeting ELi’s Publisher and Executive Director Alice Dreger at City Council meetings, which Sitar attended as Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU). Dreger, impressed by Sitar’s understanding of local government and integrity, was excited to get Sitar involved with ELi.
Through her work with ASMSU, Sitar organized debates for local elections, created voter guides, and doubled voter registration among students living in the dorms. Her efforts resulted in a 21 percent increase in voter turnout at MSU in the 2018 midterm elections.
Sitar has also advised Michigan’s Secretary of State on voting challenges by college-aged youth in Michigan. In Ingham County, she has even risen to the level of a Deputized Clerk.
Currently, she is conducting independent research to examine the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on electoral manipulation in countries with regularly scheduled elections during 2020.
Sitar’s work ethic and dedication to her community are complimented by her strong sense of integrity.
Dreger wrote in support of Sitar’s scholarship application, telling the selection committee that she was deeply impressed by how deftly Sitar handled “feedback she had been given by some of her peers that was pretty obviously sexist in nature.”
“I don’t remember exactly the language Maysa used to respond to this,” wrote Dreger, “but I remember being astonished at how she managed to take everything she had learned from watching women like Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Madeleine Albright and convey to the ASMSU body the message that she was willing to adjust her demeanor to connect – but not in a way that would cut into her integrity or her right to be judged as a man would be.”
After that, Dreger encouraged ELi’s Board to bring Sitar on, and Sitar took on that volunteer job while balancing as host of other commitments. She has served as a representative on MSU’s Police Oversight Committee, taken on a major research project regarding university-centered sexual assault, studied Arabic, and interned with U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin.
When endorsing Sitar’s application for the Mitchell Scholarship, Dreger wrote, “I have on more than one occasion told others I assume one day I will be addressing Maysa Sitar as my U.S. Senator. I have never said this about any other of the thousand or so students I have worked with, although I had one student about whom I have said I expect her to be Surgeon General someday.”
MSU also praised Sitar for her achievement. You can find out more about that here.
ELi wishes Maysa Sitar the best of luck as she embarks on the next leg of her life’s journey.
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