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Alumni reap U.K. college experience

Rohan Anand | Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Each year, forty students from American schools are selected to participate in the Marshall Scholarship program – a prestigious award given to outstanding students – which finances two years of graduate or undergraduate study in a United Kingdom institution.

And two Notre Dame students are currently reaping the benefits of their British education.

The nomination and selection process is extremely competitive. Students may only apply if nominated by their school early in the fall semester. They must be a U.S. citizen, be of senior standing or within two years after graduation and have a minimum 3.7 GPA, according to the program’s Web site.

The deadline for applications this year was on Sept. 3.

Notre Dame boasts seven scholars that have been selected to receive the scholarship since 1960. Two of the most recent graduates to receive the award were Peter Quarento, Class of 2006, and Meg Towle, Class of 2007.

Towle graduated with a degree in honors anthropology and international peace studies. She said she appreciated the wide degree of programs that students can pursue in the Marshall Program.

“It was really the only graduate opportunity that I was looking for, and it worked out great because I wanted to go international,” she said.

Towle selected the University of Liverpool to pursue her studies, and will be studying at the School of Tropical Medicine. Her interest in international health has already taken her to conduct HIV/AIDS research in Mexico, Bolivia and southern Africa.

She feels confident her grounding in anthropology and peace studies will prepare her well to take on even more challenges abroad. After completing time in Liverpool, she hopes to spend six months doing fieldwork with HIV/AIDS either in southern Africa or southeast Asia.

“[The university] has a wide range of programs that are really science-geared, and I’ve decided to work in epidemiology up to reproductive health,” she said. “My main focus will be on humanitarian studies and the global health intervention crisis. I’d really like to work with women, children and displaced persons. That’s what’s nice about the Marshall program – you do more fieldwork as opposed to being stuck in a lecture hall. That’s why I encourage everybody to apply.”

Students who are interested in the program usually receive guidance from their respective university in preparing their applications. Each file is then sent to one of eight regional locations – in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. – where they are reviewed for consideration.

“In terms of selectivity, it’s up there with the Rhodes Scholarship,” said Roberta Jordan, assistant director of the Fellowship Office at Notre Dame. “In its mission statement, [Marshall] states that they are looking for students on a clear trajectory for post-graduate study and who are well-rounded.”

The first Notre Dame student to receive the scholarship, in the 1960s, was Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior from 1993-2001 and governor of Arizona from 1978-1987. He studied at Newcastle University at Newcastle upon Tyne, in northeast England.