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Thrust to the Top

Fencer Caroline Purcell ‘02 has cut and thrust her way not only to the top of her sport but also to one of 174 annual National Collegiate Athletic Association Postgraduate Scholarships. Purcell is the 33rd MIT student to win one of the $5,000 awards. The internationally ranked fencer plans to work a few years at a construction management firm in New York before using her scholarship toward a master’s degree in civil engineering at MIT.

Purcell started fencing at age 10 and went on to win the national high-school fencing championship as a senior at New York’s Marymount School. Entering MIT, Purcell found no women’s sabre team, so she joined the men’s team. (MIT started a women’s team the following year.) At one meet, an opposing team’s coach walked away when one of his starters had to fence Purcell, apparently thinking she was no match. “A minute later I was ahead three points,” she says. Purcell has competed in eight World Cup tournaments while at MIT and is eyeing the 2004 Summer Olympics.

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