Five Students Nominated for Rhodes, Marshall Scholarships

Honors and Undergraduate Research announces that five outstanding students have been nominated by Texas A&M University for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, the two most prestigious and highly-coveted academic scholarships available to United States students.

Kristen Carter, Oliver Thoma, Bianca Manago, Raechel Schneider, Michelle Arishita
Kristen Carter, Oliver Thoma, Bianca Manago, Raechel Schneider, Michelle Arishita

Rhodes Scholarships are tenable for two to three years of graduate study at Oxford University; the Marshall Scholarship is tenable for two years of study at any university in the United Kingdom. Students must be graduating seniors or recent graduates and be nominated by the university. Hundreds of students from across the United States apply each year; of the approximately 1,000 students who applied in 2009, only 32 applicants are selected for the Rhodes, whereas only 40 of the approximately 1,100 who applied for the Marshall were selected as scholars.

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.

Michelle Arishita ‘10 is an August, 2010, graduate in Psychology, with minors in English and Philosophy. Ms. Arishita was an Honors Undergraduate Research Fellow, completing a thesis on racism in international sport under Dr. Arnold LeUnes. She has served as a CARPOOL volunteer and as a site leader for Alternative Spring Break. She also competes in marathons and triathlons. She intends to attend law school and specialize in sports law and management, with an emphasis on international organizations. If selected for the Marshall Scholarship, Ms. Arishita will earn master’s degrees from Brunel University in Sport Sciences and from Leeds Metropolitan University in Sport, Law and Society.

Kristen Carter is a Biochemistry and Genetics double-major, with minors in Music and Chemistry. She is the president of the Texas A&M Biochemistry and Genetics Society, has played with the Texas A&M Wind Symphony, and has served as a Sophomore Advisor in the Honors Housing Community. As an Honors Undergraduate Research Fellow, she is conducting research on the Mouse Hepatitis Virus under Dr. Julian Leibowitz. In the future, she intends to pursue an MD/PhD and hopes to develop improved treatments for emerging diseases and vaccines for viruses. If selected as a Rhodes or Marshall Scholar, she will pursue a DPhil in Clinical medicine at the University of Oxford, conducting research on malaria vaccines.

Bianca Manago is a double-major in Sociology and Philosophy. She is the co-founder of One Love, a student organization that promotes sustainable living and social justice, and she is the Director of Curriculum for ONE Aggieland, a network and professional development organization for campus social justice organizations. She has served as a teaching assistant in the Sociology department for three years and has been conducting research on social cooperation under Dr. Jane Sell. In addition, she has completed internships with the Texas Transportation Institute and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She plans to become a professor of sociology. If selected as a Rhodes or Marshall Scholar, she will pursue an MPhil in Evidence Based Social Intervention at Oxford University.

Raechel Schneider will receive a double-degree in Environmental Design and Psychology. She is presently the chair of GUIDE, a freshman mentoring organization, and the founder of Project Art, which recruited student artists to paint murals to beautify the MSC construction area. She is also the principal French Horn in the Texas A&M Wind Symphony, and performs regularly with The Theatre Company in Bryan, Texas. As an Honors Undergraduate Research Fellow, she conducts research on the relationship between school design and student behavior under Dr. Xuemei Zhu. In the future, she plans to create her own architectural design firm. If selected as a Marshall Scholar, she will pursue master’s degrees at the University of Surrey, in Environmental Psychology, and at Newcastle University, in Arts, Business and Creativity.

Oliver Thoma is a Political Science major. He is President of the Texas A&M Century Singers and the Advocate for Student Services in the Student Government Association. In 2009, he participated as a Student Ambassador in the 4th biennial China-US Relations Conference in Beijing. Mr. Thoma has interned in the UK Parliament, and he is presently a Presidential Fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency. As an Honors Undergraduate Research Fellow, he is composing a thesis on the US Constitution and the powers of the Executive Branch under Dr. James Rogers. In the future, he intends to pursue a career in international commerce and economic development. If selected as a Rhodes or Marshall Scholar, he will pursue master’s degrees in Modern Chinese Studies and Global Governance and Diplomacy at the University of Oxford.

Texas A&M University has produced six Rhodes Scholars and four Marshall Scholars, the most recent being Rhodes Scholar Nick Anthis ‘05 in 2005 and Marshall Scholar Faye Hays ‘07 in 2007. A Texas A&M University nominee has progressed to the finalist interviews in the Rhodes or Marshall Scholarships every year for the past six years. In the 2010 competition cycle, three Aggies progressed to the finalist interviews: Ella Doerge ’10 for the Rhodes and Paige Ibanez ’10 and Karthik Venkatraj ’10 for the Marshall. Other recent successes include Marshall Scholarship finalist Matthew Hickey ’09, and Rhodes Scholarship finalist Andrew Matteson ’08.

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.

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.”

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 April, 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.

For more information, please contact Mr. Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator in the Honors and Undergraduate Research office –  (979) 845-1957 or


Carnegie Endowment Offers Fellowship to Graduating Seniors

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results.

Each year, the Carnegie Endowment selects 8 to 10 graduating seniors as Carnegie Junior Fellows.  The Junior Fellows are matched with senior associates – academics, former government officials, lawyers and journalists from around the world – to work on a variety of international affairs issues.  Junior Fellows have the opportunity to conduct research for books, participate in meetings with high-level officials, contribute to congressional testimony and organize briefings attended by scholars, journalists and government officials.

Junior Fellows spend one year (beginning August 1st) at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, DC.  Positions are full-time and include a salary and benefits package.

Applications are accepted only from graduating college seniors or individuals who have graduated within the past academic year.  No one will be considered who has started graduate studies (except those who have recently completed a joint bachelors/masters degree program).  Applicants should have completed a significant amount of course work related to their discipline of interest.  Language and other skills may also be required for certain assignments.  The selection process for the Junior Fellows Program is very competitive.  Accordingly, applicants should be of high academic quality.

Students will specify in their applications one area of specialty:

• Democracy/Rule of Law – Political Science background preferred.
• Middle East Studies – Native or near-native Arabic language skills essential.
• Nonproliferation
• South Asian Studies – Strong math skills required in additional to background in international affairs or political science.
• Energy and Climate
• Chinese Studies – Mandarin Chinese reading skills a huge plus.
• Russian/Eurasian Studies – Excellent Russian language skills required

Students who are interested in applying for University nomination should contact…
Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator, Honors and Undergraduate Research, Texas A&M University

4233 TAMU | College Station, TX 77843
Tel. 979.845.1957

Applications Open for Goldwater, Truman Scholarships – Workshops Offered

The Honors and Undergraduate Research office is now accepting applications for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator, will be hosting informational sessions for students interested in these awards:

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship: October 1, 3 PM – Rudder 401

The Goldwater Scholarship was established to foster and encourage excellence in science and mathematics in the United States. Awards are made annually, each scholarship providing a maximum of $7,500 per year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Sophomore applicants are eligible for two years of support; junior applicants are eligible for one year of support. Two hundred and seventy-eight scholarships were awarded for 2010-2011.

Application may be made by current sophomores and juniors who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens with stated intent to obtain U.S. citizenship. Students’ ultimate educational goal should be the Ph.D. in math, science, or engineering; the competition is not appropriate for students intending to go to medical school or to stop their education at the master’s level.

Suitable applicants must have high academic achievement (3.7+ GPR) and ongoing research experience.  For further information, visit the Goldwater Website.

To apply for this award, students must first be nominated by the University.  The deadline to submit a completed application to the Honors Programs office is November 4, 2010.

Harry S. Truman Scholarship: October 1, 4 pm – Rudder 401

The Truman Scholarship provides funding for graduate school as preparation for a career in government or public service. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate studies. In addition, they participate in leadership development programs and have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government. About 60-65 scholarships are awarded each year.

Application may be made by U.S. citizens and nationals who are full-time students in the junior class with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Successful applicants typically have an exceptional record of leadership and public or community service.  A wide variety of fields can lead to public service careers: traditional fields such as education, economics, or public policy as well as less obvious ones such as engineering, environmental management, or agriculture. However, some priority is given to candidates proposing to enroll in graduate programs specifically oriented to careers in public service such as public administration, public health, government, or education and human resource development.

For further information, visit the Truman Scholarship website.   To apply for this award, students must first be nominated by the University.  The deadline to submit a completed application to the Honors Programs office is November 4, 2010.

For further information about these and other scholarships, visit the Honors and Undergraduate Research website or contact Kyle Mox, National Scholarships Coordinator at

Churchill Scholarship Supports Graduate Study in STEM at Cambridge

Honors and Undergraduate Research will be conducting informational briefings about the Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship, which provides complete support for one year of study at Cambridge University.

Sept 21, 4:30 pm, Rudder 410
Sept 22, 4:30, Rudder 504

The Churchill is among the most selective and elite scholarships for students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Only the most outstanding research universities are invited to nominate students, and only 14 scholars are selected each year.

Award Terms

The Churchill Scholarship is worth between $42,000 and $48,000, depending on the exchange rate. It covers all University and College tuition and fees (currently about $25,000). In addition, Churchill Scholars receive a living allowance of £10,000 if enrolled in a nine-month academic program, £11,000 if enrolled in a ten-month academic program, and £12,000 if enrolled in a full-year academic program. They receive an allowance of up to $1,000 for travel to and from the United Kingdom, as well as reimbursement of applications fees for a UK visa. The Foundation also offers the possibility of a Special Research Grant of up to $2,000; this grant may cover travel for presentations at international conferences, short stays at another university or institute for special research, and other activities.
Eligibility Criteria

An applicant for the Churchill Scholarship must be a citizen of the United States, either native born or naturalized, and must be a senior who is enrolled in one of the institutions participating in the Scholarship Program or a student who has recently graduated from one of those institutions. Upon taking up the Churchill Scholarship, a Churchill Scholar must be between the ages of 19 and 26, must hold a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent, and may not have attained a doctorate.

Application Procedures

Texas A&M University may only nominate two students per competition year. The campus application deadline is November 2. For further information on the application process, visit the Honors and Undergraduate Research website.

Sumana Datta Appointed Executive Director, Honors and Undergraduate Research

Dr. Sumana Datta
Dr. Sumana Datta

Dr. Sumana Datta has been named as the new executive director of the Honors Programs, which will combine with the Office of Undergraduate Research to become Honors and Undergraduate Research.

As the former Honors Programs office expands, Dr. Datta’s leadership will enhance honors experiences, including undergraduate research opportunities, for many Texas A&M students.  Her responsibility as executive director is to envision and implement rigorous, exciting, and innovative honors and research experiences for Texas A&M undergraduates.  In partnership with colleges and departments, as well as other offices, she will articulate and support a vision for honors students and faculty that integrates undergraduate research for all students, including those students who are not otherwise involved in honors programs.  Dr. Datta will oversee an office staff that coordinates mentoring for national and international awards and recognitions, residential programming and advising, among other activities.

Dr. Datta received two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan, one in chemistry and one in cellular and molecular biology, both with honors.  After receiving a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, San Diego, and serving as a postdoctoral fellow in biology at Yale University, she joined the Texas A&M University faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, with a joint appointment in the Department of Biology and membership in the interdepartmental faculties of genetics and neuroscience. She has numerous publications and presentations that contribute to our knowledge of brain development and prostate cancer, and many of her publications include undergraduate student coauthors.  Forty-one undergraduate students and three high school students have conducted research in Dr. Datta’s laboratory.

The search committee, chaired by Dr. Ann Kenimer, associate dean for academic operations in the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences, praised Dr. Datta’s experience and vision in undergraduate research, her charisma, her creative ideas, and her commitment to honors at Texas A&M University.

Sigma Xi to Host Research Expo for Undergraduates

Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society, is sponsoring the Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Expo. At least one iPAD will be given to a lucky student as a door prize.

Date: Wednesday Oct 6th
Location: Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building Atrium
Time: 4-6 PM

The Expo is an opportunity for undergraduate students to meet and talk to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) faculty to see what research is being conducted at Texas A&M. Not only will this be an interesting event, but it’s also a great chance to “network” and discover some new opportunities to get involved in undergraduate research!

The event is “come and go,” and finger food will be available at 5:00 PM.
This event is being conducted in collaboration with the Division of Research and Graduate Studies, Council of Principal Investigators, the Office of Undergraduate Research, and Honors and Undergraduate Research.

Faculty members who would like to have undergraduate students carry out research in their laboratories are encouraged to display research activities presently being conducted in their laboratory and to interact with undergraduate students considering research opportunities (possibly for their first time). This is an opportunity for faculty to advertise their undergraduate research openings and to showcase their research to the community.

For further information, contact Michelle Sullens ( or Dr. Larry Johnson (

A “Build Your Own” Major?

The September 5 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education featured a story, “Newly Customized Majors Suit Students With Passions All Their Own,” which examines a growing trend in undergraduate education: “Build Your Own” Majors.

You’re Majoring in What?

Few students are aware that such an option exists here at Texas A&M University! In fact, the first two University Studies – Honors majors just graduated in May, 2010.

University Studies - Honors Graduates Kat Drinkwater and Libby Joachim
University Studies - Honors Graduates Kat Drinkwater and Libby Joachim

The University Studies – Honors major allows students to identify an “area of concentration” comprised of 21 to 24 credit hours of course work focused on a particular topic. To supplement, students must also select two pre-designed minors, one of which must be housed in a different college than their main area of interest.

For example, recent University Studies – Honors graduate Libby Joachim ’10 identified her area of interest as “Neuropharmacology,” which included course work in microbiology, nanotechnology, neuroscience, pharmacy, and biomedical engineering.  Libby will pursue an MD/PhD at the University of Illinois.

Fellow University Studies – Honors graduate Kat Drinkwater ’10 designed a curriculum that took a holistic approach to the topics of communication and interaction by combining courses from neuroscience and psychology, with minors in linguistics and Spanish.  She will continue on to nursing school.

To some students, the inherent value of the University Studies – Honors major is obvious. As the Chronicle article relates…

Self-designed majors generally allow students to choose which courses count toward their majors. “This is the kind of major that could have kept a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in college,” Dave B. Jones, dean of Drexel’s Pennoni Honors College says.

Another administrator notes…

“I think students do best when they are studying what they really care about,” Raymond W. Hedin, Professor of English at Indiana University says. “I had a number of students who told me they would have left college if they had not had an individualized major.”

But What Do I Do With That?

A common response to the idea of a “build your own” major is that it will hinder students who apply for graduate school, professional school, or the workplace. In fact, the opposite is true. As the Chronicle article notes,

Trudy G. Steinfeld, who runs New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development, says undergraduates in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study generally fare better in the job market than do classmates with traditional majors. An individualized course of study allows students to market themselves as “entrepreneurs and self-starters,” she says.

In fact, students with aspirations of top-flight graduate programs, medical schools, or law schools might actually fare much better with their custom-built degree plan. In addition, students with an individualized major are often more competitive for prestigious fellowships:

Last year four of NYU’s 11 Fulbright scholarship winners were Gallatin students or alumni, Ms. Steinfeld notes, even though students at the school make up only about 6 percent of the university’s full-time undergraduates. Other institutions cite similar statistics. For example, although less than 2 percent of Duke University’s students have individualized majors, five of them have been among the 13 Rhodes scholars there in the last 15 years, says Norman C. Keul, associate dean of Duke’s Trinity College.

So when people ask you “What are you going to do with that?”, you can say, “Whatever I want.”

For further information on the University Studies – Honors major, contact the Honors Programs office at 845 – 1957 or

From Promise to Achievement