GW in Brief

Grad saves hostage in Iraq

GW alumnus Joe Merrill, an Army reservist serving in Iraq, helped rescue an American hostage last week that had been held prisoner by insurgents for three weeks.

Thomas Hamill, a truck driver for Halliburton, a private company hired for the reconstruction of Iraq, ran half a mile on May 3 from a house where he was being held captive to a U.S. military convoy in Balad, a city north of Baghdad. The soldiers had been searching for a break in a pipeline near the area and offered medical aid and water to Hamill.

Merrill, a 1st Lieutenant who graduated from GW in 2002, was one of the first soldiers to stumble upon the truck driver.

“He initially came across the field, and he had stated that he wanted to have us recognize him as an American, so he was waving his hand and shouting,” Merrill said at a press conference last week in Baghdad, the Associated Press reported.

“(H)e was obviously very glad to see us. And once we found out – (when) we recognized who he was – we knew we had gotten somebody good,” Merrill added.

Merrill serves in the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry National Guard unit based in New York. As an American Studies major at GW, Merrill, of Deposit, N.Y., participated in the University’s Reserve Officer Training Corp program offered in conjunction with Georgetown University.

Brant Irby, a junior in ROTC, said Merrill, who served in the Army before coming to GW, was a positive influence.

“Having him around with his experience was a big help with training, and he gave advice on how to conduct ourselves in ROTC and in the Army,” Irby said.

After being stationed at New York’s Fort Drum, Merrill was sent to Kuwait in February and from there crossed the border into Iraq, Irby said.

Irby added that Merrill told friends he was looking forward to serving his country.

– Ryan Holeywell

Students win academic scholarships

Two GW juniors won prestigious academic scholarships that dole out thousands of dollars in tuition money to students across the country.

Micah Kubic received the Harry S. Truman scholarship, which honors students committed to a career in public service with $24,000 for graduate studies. Only 77 college juniors were selected for the award nationwide.

Daniel Frank received $7,500 as one of 310 Barry M. Goldwater scholars. The scholarship is open to science, math and engineering students. University officials announced that Frank and Kubic won the scholarships in early April.

Kubic, a political science and international affairs double major, said he wants to work for the mayor of his hometown, Kansas City, Mo. He said he plans to use the scholarship money to pursue a master’s degree and Ph.D. in black politics from Howard University.

Frank, a biology major, had to write several essays including a description of his research project on the clinical applications for hematology, or blood disorders. He has been working on the study since last summer as part of a research fellowship at the GW Medical Center.

Frank, a biology major, has begun looking at medical schools and plans to apply to GW, Cornell and New York universities. He hopes the Goldwater Scholarship will improve his attractiveness as a medical school candidate.

-Katie Considine

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