Manago Selected as Finalist for Rhodes, Marshall Scholarships

Texas A&M University former student Bianca Manago has been selected as a finalist for both the Rhodes and Marshall 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.

Rhodes and Marshall Finalist Bianca Manago

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.

Finalist interviews for the Marshall Scholarship took place at the British Embassy in Houston on November 8.  Manago will return to Houston to interview for the Rhodes Scholarship on November 18 and 19.  Taking place at the Federal Circuit Courthouse and at the home of former Rhodes Scholar and federal judge Keith P. Ellison, the two-day selection process will include a luncheon, a “cocktail hour,” and a 30-minute interview.

Of the 20 finalists in the Houston region, five Marshall Scholars will be selected.  For the Rhodes, only two scholars will be chosen from the district.

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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