Provost Paul Courant and numerous faculty members honored eight University students Friday who were nominated for the 2002-03 Rhodes, Marshall and Mitchell Scholarships. Though this nomination is the first step of many requisites for scholar status, Courant emphasized the students’ achievement.
“These are the best of the best – and that is very, very good,” he said.
Courant also urged attending professors to take pride in their former students’ accomplishments.
“Enjoy this moment, because they’re about to leave you in the dust. Celebrate the influence you’ve had,” he said.
Accomplishments and contributions of the students legitimize bragging rights, said scholarship subcommittee member Ejner Jensen. He said the nominees were chosen only after reviewing more than two dozen applications and conducting 12 interviews.
Jensen went on to relay the credentials of each nominee, including working for the FBI, having original compositions performed abroad and working with citizens in Bolivia and Honduras.
Each student cited life-changing, memorable, or simply favorite experiences contributing to their application for the scholarships. Leadership roles dominated each student’s testimony.
LSA senior Gwendolyn Arnold is a nominee for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarship competitions. Arnold said that teaching at an agricultural vocational school near Tarata, Bolivia, for two months defied her expectations and strengthened her ability to be flexible.
“I thought I would be expected to teach English, but instead I had to teach English and farming. I only had two months, so I knew I had to do something that would leave a mark. I taught them creative things they would remember, like how to scavenger hunt, play Pictionary and make pancakes,” she said.
Rhodes Scholarship nominee and Engineering graduate student Brian Netter named several summer experiences as memorable – developing a math model for Ford Motor Company in Salvador, Brazil and interning for the FBI in the counterterrorism department.
Netter said living in Salvador when the police went on strike was both terrifying and rewarding.
“Living in Brazil was like being in a war zone. There were hundreds of murders every day,” Netter said. “It really gave me a sense of insight.”
LSA senior Heather Jensen, a Rhodes Scholarship nominee, said that her experience living in the Middle East influenced her commitment to public service and named very high career aspirations.
“I want to work for the United Nations,” she said, adding that she hopes to specialize in conflict resolution and diplomacy.
LSA senior Ryan Bodanyi said he has led several campus initiatives, including a symbolic protest against the Burma pipeline and persuading campus vendors to switch to Fair Trade coffee products. He said the nomination is only a first step toward the honor of receiving a scholarship.
“This isn’t an honor yet – I haven’t won anything yet,” he said.
Joshua Palay is a nominee for the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships who graduated from the Music school in composition and music theory. Jensen said that Palay has studied in Paris and had pieces performed in New York, Paris, and Florence.
Other students nominated for one or more of the three scholarships include recent graduate Annie Maxwell, LSA senior Theron Tingstad, and LSA senior Anna Haskins.