A University of Washington grad student was given Oscar-like treatment on a two-hour CNN special last night, Dec. 6, honoring humanitarian entrepreneurs. Peter Kithene, a native of Kenya and a resident of Mountlake Terrace, was selected as one of seven humanitarian "heroes" doing noteworthy work in difficult circumstances in various spots around the world. Update: CNN Heroes will air again today at 5 p.m. Pacific time. Kithene (Kih-THEE-nee) was cited for his work in creating a health clinic in southwest Kenya. Orphaned at age 12, he managed to secure a scholarship to an elite secondary school in Nairobi. A chance meeting with Seattle residents led to his applying to UW, where he combined studies with a fundraising effort to create the Mama Maria Clinic in his home village. The clinic has served some 18,000 patients in its first two years, emphasizing malaria treatment and prenatal care. Kithene says he'll return to Kenya to expand the clinic's reach when he finishes a master's program in health administration at the UW. The CNN award carries a check for $35,000. Kithene says he'll use some of the money at the clinic to beging testing and treatment for HIV-AIDS, which he suspects killed his parents and six of his 10 siblings. (Disclosure: I'm delighted with Kithene's latest prize since I served on a panel that selected him as the winner of the UW's undergraduate leadership award last spring.) Last night's live broadcast from the American Museum of Natural History in New York had the trappings of a show-business award event, with celebrity presenters Glenn Close, Jimmy Smits, and Kyra Sedgwick and music by Norah Jones, Sheryl Crowe, and Mary J. Blige. CNN says viewers in more than 70 countries nominated more than 7,000 persons for the Hero prizes. In addition to Kithene, awards went to six others, including a Ugandan nun who rescues girls kidnapped by soldiers during tribal fighting; a Canadian teenager who figured out a way to communicate with austic children by linking spoken language with keys on a piano; a novice Ecuadorian lawyer battling Chevron-Texaco over cleanup of toxic residue from oil exploration in the Amazon rain forest; and a former Oracle executive who has set up feeding programs and computer-learning centers for children in rural Kenya.