Claire Celestin S’19, an aspiring physician with a passion for improving women’s and children’s health, has earned the highly prestigious Marshall Scholarship to fund two years of postgraduate study in the United Kingdom. Building on an outstanding record of research, leadership, service, and experiential immersion in the healthcare system, Celestin will use the Marshall Scholarship to pursue advanced degrees in women’s and children’s health at King’s College London.
Celestin, a behavioral neuroscience major and honors student from New Hampshire, aims to solve a stark problem: maternal mortality in the United States is increasing, even as it decreases in other developed countries. Moreover, adverse effects in maternal and infant health mirror broader social inequalities, as women of color are three times as likely to die in childbirth as Caucasian women in the US.
To this problem Celestin brings formidable skills as a researcher, leader, and advocate. At the start of her second year, Claire earned the Paul and Grace Ward Martinez scholarship to work in the Social Psychology Lab of Professor Judith Hall on research related to implicit biases, ultimately helping to extend the concept of implicit bias to the domain of sexual orientation and co-authoring a poster presented at the field’s flagship conference.
This research experience helped focus Celestin’s analytical gaze on the structures that underlie inequality. Working to remediate injustices in the lives of young people, she rose through the leadership ranks of Peace Through Play, a student-run non-profit that teaches a peace-promoting curriculum to local K-5 children. Blazing yet another trail in her advocacy for women, Celestin also became the first black president of her sorority, Chi Omega.
Celestin’s desire to become a physician was solidified during her cooperative work experience with a midwife in rural Peru, where she witnessed the power of individual practitioners to promote dignity and well-being within a broader context of inequality. After completing her term as a Marshall Scholar and returning to the United States for medical school, Celestin hopes one day to establish a nationwide network of maternal and children’s health clinics serving those currently left behind.
The Marshall Scholarship was established by the British government in 1953 in recognition of the assistance provided by the United States through the Marshall Plan. This year, 48 exceptional students were selected for the award; Marshall Scholarship alumni include two sitting Supreme Court justices, six Pulitzer Prize winners, and a Nobel laureate.