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An International Perspective

The Mendell Award helps political science students collaborate and excel

Steve Mendell ’63 and his wife, Barbara, founded the Mendell Award in Political Science to create curious and passionate international citizens like Corah Walker ’24. Corah received the Mendell Award in 2018 to pursue a doctorate in political science. Like the award’s namesake philanthropist, she is determined to make the world a better place.

“Those that can help create opportunities for others should do so,” said Steve. For Steve and Barbara, that meant building a legacy of mentorship at UC Santa Barbara. The Mendell Award is an annual scholarship that will be endowed through a bequest.

UC Santa Barbara’s political science program created opportunities for Steve around the world. After graduating in 1963, Steve studied French at the Defense Language Institute and was stationed in Vietnam as an Army Intelligence Officer. He went on to lead the counter intelligence section at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe. His career in international business led to living and working in Europe, Latin America and the Far East. Steve hopes the Mendell Award will encourage students to seek global solutions to challenges beyond the United States.

“I love political science because it asks tough questions and focuses on what’s universal to humankind,” said Corah, whose research focuses on international environmental change and political corruption. UC Santa Barbara’s collaborative atmosphere and a budding Bren School partnership drew Corah in.

Corah Walker '24
Corah Walker '24

The Mendell Award empowered Corah to immerse herself in research and the broader Santa Barbara community. Corah teaches sailing at the UCSB Recreation Center, where she’s earning a certification to teach people with disabilities and developing an affordable youth summer camp.

“Steve and Barbara have made it possible for the Department of Political Science to recruit and fund the very best young scholars interested in studying the high stakes topics of this discipline, which touch on some of the great societal challenges of our times,” said Charlie Hale, SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences. “This is a transformative gift, which will contribute to the success of graduate students in political science for generations to come.”

Corah envisions herself working at World Resources Institute, the United Nations, the World Bank, the Stockholm International Water Institute, or mentoring students interested in international development while researching at an R1 university.

“It’s so important to engage in mentoring and teaching but also follow your passions, which I can do at UC Santa Barbara,” Corah said. “The Mendell Award gave me the flexibility and the freedom to dive deeper into my research questions and feed my curiosity.”