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Adventurous ASU senior wins top scholarship

November 29, 2007

Her passion to help the most vulnerable in society, along with a sharp intellect and an amazing breadth of life experiences, have led ASU senior Megan McGinnity to win a 2007 Marshall Scholarship. The scholarship is among the most prestigious awards for graduate study in the world.

At 22, McGinnity has traveled around the world more than once, studied child slavery in Africa and Egypt, learned Arabic, volunteered in a Romanian orphanage and created a model U.N. program, for starters.

She is one of about 40 college seniors nationwide chosen to receive the award, which provides full funding for two years of graduate study in the United Kingdom, worth more than $60,000. McGinnity is the latest in a string of 13 ASU students who have won Marshalls in the last 15 years.

McGinnity, who also was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, decided not to pursue a Rhodes because the Marshall program fits better with her passion: ending human trafficking. She wants to study Middle East politics at the University of London, and intelligence and international security at Kings College London.

Her interest in the international crime began several years ago, when she received a grant to study in Romania and began volunteering in an orphanage while there. After hearing about the horrors of people being sold into slavery and prostitution, she decided to begin studying the economics of such transactions around the globe. In 2006, she traveled to Africa and last summer to Egypt.

“My journey into this shocking field began in a Romanian orphanage, but I found that trafficking in persons is a transnational crime that touches every country in the world,” says McGinnity, who is majoring in political science and economics. “The U.S. Department of State estimates that, each year, 800,000 people are sold or forced to work against their will.

“Like narcotics and arms smuggling, it is part of a larger security framework in the system of international relations, driven by market incentives and profit. I want to be part of uncovering them through financial intelligence and analysis. Ending trafficking will be a lifelong endeavor for me.”

McGinnity is a 2003 graduate from Mesa’s Mountain View High School, and also a Truman Scholar. She speaks regularly to community groups about human trafficking. Her global vision was formed by talking with parents who sold their own children in Ghana, sipping tea with a Bedouin sheik and his wives, sharing a meal of pig fat with workers in Phnom Penh and accepting lavish hospitality from battle-weary Rwandans. There seems no end to her adventuresome spirit.

But one more adventure awaits. Shortly after her upcoming graduation in May – and before she leaves for graduate school in England – McGinnity is getting married, having gotten engaged recently to a young American doctoral student she met in Egypt, in the Arabic language program.