Natalia Chapovalova ’12 has become the first Binghamton University student to receive a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
She is one of just 39 U.S. scholars chosen for the 2013–14 academic year.
“It’s an incredible honor,” says Chapovalova, who was born in Russia, moved to the United States at age 5, and now lives in Pleasantville, N.Y. She has a degree in psychology.
Chapovalova’s research will examine the healing practices of the Skolt Sami, indigenous people who live in Norway, Finland and Russia. She will conduct her research through the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge and work with Piers Vitebsky, an internationally renowned anthropologist who has lived with an indigenous community in the Russian Arctic.
Established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 with a $210 million endowment, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship is considered one of the world’s most competitive awards. It draws 800 U.S. applicants annually; no more than 40 U.S. scholars and 50 international scholars are selected each year. The program strives to build a network of future world leaders who will work to improve the lives of others, a goal that Chapovalova is familiar with. In August 2012, she became a Harpur Fellow and created an art-therapy program for disabled children in Belarus who have suffered from the aftereffects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.