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College scholars cross the pond…again

link to: College ReportCurrent Rhodes scholar Erin A. Bohula, AB’99, advises the University’s newly named Rhodes and Marshall scholarship winners to cultivate a taste for mayonnaise, because in Britain, where they’ll be studying, “it’s served with everything.” She also suggests that they bring umbrellas and be ready “to meet some amazing people, both students and teachers.”

image: College scholars (Photo by Lloyd DeGrane)
A Chicago triumverate heads for the United Kingdom: Fourth-year David B. Haglund (left), Robert F. Chenault, AB'99, and fourth-year Sarah C. Bagby all won Marshall scholarships this year.

Bohula is one of four alumni who received prestigious British scholarships last year. Maureen N. Dunne, AB’98, AM’98, and Mira C. Lutgendorf, AB’99, also received Rhodes scholarships, while Elizabeth M. Evenson, AB’99, was awarded a Marshall scholarship.

Two more College students and two more recent grads will be following in their footsteps next year: a Rhodes scholar and three Marshall scholars, all of whom plan to study at the University of Oxford. Chicago’s 35th Rhodes scholar, Jasdip S. (“Jesse”) Kharbanda, AB’99, was one of 32 U.S. students to receive the honor this past December. One week later, Robert R. Chenault, AB’99, and fourth-years Sarah C. Bagby and David B. Haglund became three of 40 Americans to pick up a Marshall. This is the first time three University of Chicago students have received the scholarship in one year, bringing Chicago’s total number of Marshall winners to 15.

Established in 1902 by British patriot Cecil J. Rhodes, his scholarship provides tuition and living expenses for up to three years of study at Oxford. The Marshall scholarship program was founded by an act of the British Parliament in 1953 and commemorates the ideals of the Marshall Plan. Funded by the British government, the scholarship provides tuition and a living stipend to Americans for two years of study at any British university.

image: College scholars (Photo by Lloyd DeGrane)
Rhodes scholar Jesse Kharbanda, AB'99

While on his Rhodes, Kharbanda will study economic theory and environmental science. Interested in the potential effects of global warming on small-scale farmers in the developing world, he says he would like to pursue a career in environmental public policy as both a researcher and an advocate.

Bagby plans to apply her Marshall toward the study of biochemistry. She wants to explore how malfunctions in the internal communication of single cells can lead to diseases such as cancer and cholera, hopefully yielding clues to the development of therapies for these diseases. She would also like to pursue a career in teaching. “Challenging my students stimulates me to challenge myself,” says Bagby, who has served as a teaching assistant in biology. “And coming up with new ways of explaining what we know helps me to find new questions to ask about what we don’t know.”

Chenault will study classics, looking for ways to make Greek and Latin available to more students at a younger age. He hopes to one day establish an educational academy that will include training in Greek and Latin--subjects he believes provide great joy while training young minds in interdisciplinary subjects. Chenault credits Chicago’s classics department with kindling his love for the subject: “When people ask me what there is for a classicist but to teach classics, I say nothing would please me more than to interest others in the field that has given me such pleasure.”

Haglund plans to study English literature on his way to becoming an essayist and a biographer of Wallace Stevens. He says he would eventually like to write and edit for such literary publications as the New York Review of Books. “I must thank Wayne Booth for feeding my growing passion for literature and thoughtfulness and then assisting that pursuit as perhaps no one else has,” he adds.

Dunne, one of Chicago’s current Rhodes scholars, says the recent winners may be surprised by how different it feels to pursue their intellectual passions at Oxford, without an American emphasis on output, deadlines, or tests. “You can escape to a garden and read for hours because the supervisors here encourage you to read and re-read until you think about your material differently,” she says, advising them to prepare to live life more slowly, and perhaps more fully, next year.

And, if mayonnaise isn’t the new group of scholars’ condiment of choice, Bohula recommends opting for Britain’s other culinary passion--Indian cuisine.--Jennifer Leovy

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