November 22, 2005

One Marshall, three Rhodes scholars named

Three Rhodes Scholars and one British Marshall Scholar will represent the University of Chicago as this year’s winners of two of the world’s most prestigious academic honors.

Samsher Gill, A.B. ’05, and fourth-years Maria Cecire and Nicholas Juravich were announced winners of the 2006 Rhodes Scholarship on Saturday. Juravich and fourth-year Stephen Brusatte were also awarded the British Marshall Scholarship this past weekend. As a winner of both awards, Juravich chose to accept the Rhodes over the Marshall.

Rhodes recipients spend two years studying at Oxford University, while Marshall recipients can study at any United Kingdom university. This marks the fourth time in almost a decade that multiple U of C students have won the Rhodes Scholarship.

As a political science concentrator in the College, Gill attributed much of his Rhodes win to his B.A. adviser, Iris Young, who he said piqued his interest in political theory.

Gill was awarded Student Marshal of the University, the highest academic honor an undergraduate can win. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and awarded the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies and the University Student Employee of the Year in 2005.  He is currently a staff writer for Media Matters for America, a progressive news organization.

“I’m deeply honored, very happy, and beyond that, it’s hard to express how I feel,” Gill said.

Cecire, an English concentrator, plans to study medieval and children’s literature during her time at Oxford. An avid participant in the University’s arts community, Cecire has served as president of Fire Escape Films, the student filmmaking group on campus, and has also worked at the Smart Museum of Art, teaching art to inner-city students.

“I was really proud of the way the U of C represented itself,” Cecire said about her fellow Rhodes winners.

Juravich plans to use his history concentration to study economics and social history at Oxford. Along with serving as captain of the University’s Men’s Cross-Country team, Juravich cited his Human Rights Internship in South Africa as a key part of his college experience.

“I would just like to thank my professors, the human rights program, track and field, and cross country, and would like to make a shout-out to Amherst Regional High School,” he said.

As close friends, Juravich and Cecire said they encouraged each other during the program’s application process. During their interviews, they wore jerseys beneath their business suits that were printed with one another’s last name.

As the University’s newest Marshall Scholar, Steve Brusatte plans to spend one year at the University of Bristol pursuing a master’s degree in paleontology, followed by one year at the Imperial College in London for a masters in systematic biology.

During his time at the U of C, Brusatte complemented his role as president of the geology club by writing Stately Fossils, a book published in 2002. Brusatte’s interest in dinosaur and vertebrate research took him dinosaur-hunting in Africa with Paul Sereno, professor in Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University.

“My goal is to become a research scientist who studies fossils to understand evolution and earth history, and also at the same time to use my research to teach and inspire others,” Brusatte said.

With applications accepted into October 2005, a total of 903 students from 333 colleges applied to the Rhodes Scholarship program. Cecire, Gill, and Juravich, were among 32 American students selected for the 2006 awards. Brusatte competed for one of 40 awards offered by the Marshall Scholarship program, which also required a minimum GPA of 3.7, among other academic prerequisites.

“I am very pleased and excited that we had so many winners this year,” said Lou Tremante, senior adviser in the College for fellowships, who managed University students’ applications to the Marshall and Rhodes scholarship competitions.

“Winning is not only about raw intelligence,” he said. “It’s also about the candidates’ leadership abilities and their commitment to community.”