Five Students Nominated for Rhodes, Marshall Scholarships

Five outstanding students at Texas A&M University have been nominated for the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships, the two most prestigious and highly-coveted academic scholarships available to United States students.

The Marshall Scholarship is tenable for two years of graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom; the well-known Rhodes Scholarships are tenable for two to three years of graduate study at Oxford University.  Among the most competitive scholarship competitions in the world, only about 4% the nationwide pool of over 1,000 university-nominated applicants receive either award.

A Genetics and Biochemistry double-major from Madison, Mississippi, Matthew Grunewald has been nominated for both the Rhodes Scholarship and the Marshall Scholarship.  A University Scholar and a University Undergraduate Research Fellow, Matt’s research interests are in gene therapy. A recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and the Astronaut Foundation Scholarship, he has conducted research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, at Essen University Hospital through the DAAD-RISE program, and at Texas A&M under Dr. Jean-Philippe Pellois.  An active member of the University Honors Program, Matthew has served as an Honors Housing Community Peer Advisor.  He is also active in the Biochemistry and Genetics Society.  Through these scholarships, he will have the option of studying at University College London, University of Cambridge, or the University of Oxford.  In the long term, he intends to pursue an M.D. /Ph.D. degree in cell and molecular biology and later conduct research in gene therapy and immunology.

Nominated for the Marshall Scholarship, Maria Elise Lopez, from Austin, is an International Studies major.  She is currently a volunteer with Communities in Schools, an AmeriCorps program, through which she mentors and tutors at-risk students in the Austin area.  She has previously served as a bilingual tutor with the Texas A&M Reads and Counts program and as an intern with College Forward, a non-profit organization that provides college access and college persistence services to motivated, economically disadvantaged students.  She has previously studied abroad in Monterrey, Mexico, and this past summer, she also worked as an intern with Centro de Acogida al Refugiado, an international refugee processing center in Seville, Spain.  Through the Marshall Scholarship, Maria will have the opportunity to pursue graduate programs in migration studies at the University of Sussex and refugee studies at University of East London.  Her long-term goals are to work for a non-governmental organization that promotes peace, diplomacy, and cultural learning or an international relief agency such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

A 2011 recipient of the Brown-Rudder Award, Bianca Manago is from Lansing, Kansas.  Nominated for both the Rhodes Scholarship and the Marshall Scholarship, Bianca graduated with a double-major in Sociology and Philosophy in May, 2011.  As a student at Texas A&M, she co-founded the social and environmental justice groups One Love and One Aggieland. She has since gone on to be an advisor for One Aggieland and has developed a special topics course on Global Social Justice Leadership.  As an Undergraduate Research Scholar under Dr. Jane Sell, she completed a senior thesis and presented her findings at the Social Dilemmas Conference 2010 and the Southwestern Sociological Association Annual Meeting 2011.  Bianca currently works for the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture as the program coordinator for the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative, responsible for project development, finances, communication, marketing, social media, and research proposal development and management. A former high school Academic All-American soccer player, Bianca has competed in several half marathons, duathlons, and triathlons. Through the Rhodes Scholarship, she will study philosophy at the University of Oxford, and if awarded a Marshall Scholarship, she will study philosophy at the University of Essex.  In the long term, she hopes to become a philosophy professor.

Nominated for the Marshall Scholarship, Meteorology major Ethan Nelson is from Carlsbad, New Mexico.  As an Undergraduate Research Scholar, he has already completed a thesis, “Testing Linear Diagnostics of Ensemble Performance on a Simplified Global Circulation Model,” and is continuing his research on ensemble predictability under Dr. Istvan Szunyogh.  In July, Ethan was the sole undergraduate in attendance at the Advanced Mathematical Methods to Study Atmospheric Dynamical Processes and Predictability summer school at the Banff International Research Station in Alberta, Canada.  He has worked repeatedly at the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a Student Forecaster Intern. Active in campus life, Ethan is the Student Senator for the College of Geosciences, also serving in the Student Senate Caucus Leader and a member of the Constituency Affairs committee overseeing Senate interaction with the student population. A talented musician, he weekly serves as a pianist at the A&M United Methodist Church.  If awarded the Marshall Scholarship, Ethan will study for a PhD in Atmosphere, Oceans, and Climate at the University of Reading.  In the future, he plans to become a professor and at some point move over to a scientific advisor position for the government.

A native of Arlington, James “Cory” Perkins studies Physics, with minors in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics.  A University Scholar and a Mechanics Scholar, Cory has been involved in significant materials science research throughout his undergraduate education.  Through his work as an undergraduate researcher under Dr. Kolomenski, he has been co-author on two conference abstracts.  He has also conducted classified research through the National Security Agency, through which he learned quantum optic experimental techniques by characterizing optical equipment.  In terms of service and community involvement, Cory has been involved in Fish Aides and has played for the Texas A&M men’s club volleyball team. Cory has also been active through the church, organizing a spring retreat and working as a counselor at Sky Ranch, a Christian summer camp.  He has also had the opportunity to participate in mission trips to Latvia and Jamaica. If selected for either the Rhodes Scholarship or Marshall Scholarship, he will study for a doctorate in Photovoltaic or Semiconductor Materials at the University of Oxford.  His long term goals are to conduct research in energy storage and solar power collection, perhaps as a university professor.

The nominees will hear of their selection as finalists in the next one to two weeks.  Finalists will then participate in regional or district interviews in November.  The announcement of scholars will be announced by the foundations shortly thereafter.

The Marshall Scholarships began in 1953 as a gesture of thanks from the British Government for the US assistance in rebuilding Europe after World War II. Former Marshall Scholars include Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and New York Times Foreign Affairs columnist Thomas Friedman.  According to the Marshall Scholarship Foundation, as future leaders, Marshall Scholars are “expected to strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. Marshall Scholars are talented, independent and wide-ranging, and their time as Scholars enhances their intellectual and personal growth. Their direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programmes contributes to their ultimate personal success.”  Only 40 Marshall Scholars are selected each year.

The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest international fellowships, were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902, and bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford.  The primary qualification for a successful candidate is intellectual distinction, although the selection committees also seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead.  Through the years, Rhodes Scholars have pursued studies in all of the varied fields available at the University of Oxford, where they are elected for two years of study, with the possibility of renewal for a third year. Notable Rhodes Scholars include former US President Bill Clinton, NBA Hall-of-Fame inductee and Senator Bill Bradley, and Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee Kris Kristofferson.  Only 32 American Rhodes Scholars are selected each year.

Because of the fierce competition for these scholarships, the preliminary process to be selected as an official University nominee is quite rigorous.  Currently enrolled students and recent graduates should apply for selection in late April or early May, with the official deadline for the scholarships being in early October.  To be awarded the University’s nomination, a student must show strong scholarly potential, demonstrated through their academic record and letters of recommendation from faculty, leadership ability, demonstrated through their involvement in student and civic organizations, and excellent speaking and analytical skills, as demonstrated in a series of interviews.

Once approved, prospective nominees can expect to spend months developing their applications as they work closely under the advice and guidance of faculty and academic advisors.  The official announcement of university endorsement is made only after the nominees submit their finalized application to the scholarship foundations.

Throughout its history, Texas A&M University has produced seven Rhodes Scholars and five Marshall Scholars, the most recent being biochemistry and genetics major Nick Anthis for the Rhodes in 2005 and environmental design major Faye Hays for the Marshall in 2007.  In last year’s competition, Biochemistry and Genetics major Kristin Carter was selected as a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, and in 2009, Biochemistry and Genetics major Ella Doerge was selected as a finalist for the Rhodes.  Since 2000, eleven Aggies have been selected as finalists for the Marshall Scholarship and four have been selected as finalists for the Rhodes.

For more information, please contact Mr. Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator in the Honors Programs office – (979) 845-1957 or kemox@tamu.edu.

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