By Joseph Hughes
(Nov. 20, 2003)
Forget about it.
Even getting an interview for the Marshall Scholarship ? comparable to the Rhodes ? is next to impossible. To wit: Only one Ohio University student has been interviewed since the scholarship's inception nearly 50 years ago ?
? which is why the fact that Ohio University seniors Natalie Kruse and Jessica Benson not only were interviewed, but were also two of only approximately 40 to earn the prestigious scholarship is so remarkable.
"It's such an honor," says Ann Brown, director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. "It's stunning. The process is so competitive that it's difficult to get even an interview. Both students are simply extraordinary. Their applications were so polished and thoughtful and their interviews went so well. We couldn't be prouder."
Kruse, a civil engineering major with a geology minor from Athens, Ohio, earned a Marshall Scholarship to study abandoned coal mine remediation at Newcastle University. Benson, a native of McKeesport, Pa., who is studying engineering physics through the Honors Tutorial College and mechanical engineering in the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, earned a scholarship to pursue organic photovoltaics at Imperial College.
"Receiving this award was a tremendous honor," says Kruse, a Drs. Cruse W. and Virginia Patton Moss Manasseh Cutler Scholar who earned Barry M. Goldwater and Morris K. Udall scholarships this year. "And I am very excited to continue my education at Newcastle University. I have to admit I was very surprised when I picked up my phone and the voice on the other end had a British accent."
At Newcastle, Kruse will study geochemistry as part of the civil and environmental engineering department with the help of Professor Paul Younger. Specifically, she will examine modeling fluid flow, contaminant transport and reactions within abandoned mine systems.
"I also hope to be able to travel some, learn about the culture, meet new people and get outside," Kruse says. "Newcastle is not far from the coast and from one of the UK's national parks. I also hope to do some rock climbing, hiking and biking while I'm there."
Benson, who is spending the 2003-04 school year as a Goldwater Scholar, has researched the electric properties of organic molecules with Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Saw-Wai Hla.
"She's an excellent student," Hla says. "She's not only a very dedicated student but she's also an accomplished scientist. I'm very happy for her."
Benson plans on pursuing a doctorate in bioengineering and biophysics. She wants to research biological processes including photosynthesis, tissue growth and cell signaling, helping to create mechanisms that have interesting applications, are good for the environment and improve lives.
Established in 1953, the Marshall Scholarships allow American students to pursue a degree in the United Kingdom. Up to 40 Scholars are selected each year from nearly 1,000 applicants to study at the graduate ? and rarely undergraduate ? level in the UK in any field. Held for two years, each scholarship includes university fees, cost of living expenses, an annual book grant, thesis grant, research and daily travel grants, travel fares to and from the United States and a potential contribution toward the support of a spouse.
Joseph Hughes is a writer with University Communications and Marketing.