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Mamasa Camara Recently Named Gates Cambridge Scholar

February 2016

Mamasa Camara Wins Gates Cambridge ScholarshipLong before she became a student at Spelman, Mamasa Camara, C'2015, was passionate about changing the world.   As a student, the history major was awarded several scholarships and afforded numerous opportunities to research and present her findings regarding an issue very dear to her heart – expanding the social discourse on female circumcision.
 
Through a historical lens, she investigates the practice of female circumcision and how to apply this analysis to aid contemporary efforts to address the practice. Her past research explored British colonial narratives on female circumcision in Kenya and received the Most Outstanding Thesis Award in the history department.
 
Recently, Camara was awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a highly sought after opportunity designed to support "intellectually outstanding postgraduate students with a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others." The scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge.

At Cambridge, Camara will continue to excavate how historical forces inform contemporary moments in African Studies, by examining discourse on female circumcision and its real-world implications. As one of 35 U.S. recipients, Camara will benefit from a lively and engaging Gates Cambridge community, after which she will become part of the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association – a global network of over 1,400 Gates Cambridge Alumni who hail from more than 100 countries.
 
The Cambridge Scholarship is only one more added to Camara's list of honors. In 2014, she was the winner of the 2014 School for International Training Study Abroad Undergraduate Research Award. She received the award for her independent study project titled, “Imagined Communities: Changing Markets and the Implications for 21st Century Mali-China Migration.”
 
Deemed one of the two best projects completed in the past three semesters, Camara’s research was selected among 2,900 independent study projects. She was honored for her unique topic, thorough methods, thoughtful analysis and comprehensive fieldwork. Her research project was nominated for the Forum on Education Abroad’s 2014 Undergraduate Research Award.  
 
Camara is also known for raising awareness about female circumcision. During her undergraduate years at Spelman, she traveled to her native country Gambia to organize the Second Women’s Health Conference on Female Circumcision. During summer 2012, Camara collaborated with Isatou Njie-Saidy, vice president of Gambia, to organize the country’s first women’s health conference in order to mutually create strategies to address women’s health disparities.  
 
The daylong conference included a series of televised health fairs and health education series. Camara also worked to extend the project to rural areas of Gambia. Honored to be a recipient of this year’s award, Camara attributes her success to the “phenomenal institution that is Spelman College and the individuals who challenged me and made my experience worthwhile."

blue-quote-leftAs a first generation Gambian-American navigating multiple identities, Spelman became the place where I truly encountered my mind. The experience cultivated me in a way I cannot fully articulate and without the relentless support and encouragement of mentors like Dr. Philips Lewis, Dr. Ganz, blue-quote-rightDean Baxter and many others, I would not be where I am today. I will always be grateful to Spelman!

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