Hawai'i State News

UH Hilo alumnus receives Marshall Scholarship; first for UH Hilo

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Kit Neikirk. Photo Courtesy: UH Hilo

A University of Hawai‘i at Hilo graduate is a recipient of the 2024 Marshall Scholarship and the first UH Hilo student to receive the prestigious scholarship.

Kit Neikirk, from Kurtistown, Hawai‘i, earned degrees in chemistry, biology, and sociology, and two subject certificates in anthropology and mathematics, in spring 2023. He is one of 51 winners in the scholarship program’s largest class in 70 years, chosen from a field of 1,006 applications.

Neikirk started at UH Hilo in Fall 2019 as a Chancellor’s Scholar after graduating from Connections Public Charter High School in 2019 as the class valedictorian. He published extensively throughout his undergraduate career, worked as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) tutor, served as editor of the student research publication Hohonu, was chair of the Board of Student Publications, and studied abroad in Scotland. He will pursue a Master of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh as well as a Master of Science in Advanced Biomedical Imaging at University College London.


“As I reflect on my experiences, I can see they fit together, pointing me to a life dedicated to caring for others, both clinically and through research,” Neikirk said. “Following the Marshall fellowship, I want to enroll in an MD/Ph.D. with a focus on social determinants of health as seen through imaging techniques.

“My ultimate goal is to investigate the role social determinants play in altered pathophysiology to inform precision medicine techniques globally,” he added.

The Marshall Scholarship program was created by an Act of British Parliament in 1953 as a living memorial to former United States Secretary of State General George C. Marshall and the US for assistance under the Marshall Plan. The scholarship allows for up to three years of graduate study in any academic topic at any university in the UK.


“Kit is already a leader, and the Marshall Scholarship will allow him to further his potential and contributions,” Chancellor Bonnie Irwin said. “He is a thoughtful and humble young man, who has a strong desire to serve.

“Every once in a while a truly exceptional student comes along,” she added. “Mr. Neikirk is indeed one such student.”

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