Over last week’s fall break, three Yalies learned that they have earned prestigious scholarships to study abroad in the United Kingdom next year.
Helen Jack ’12 and Ronan Farrow LAW ’09 are among 32 students nationwide to win the Rhodes Scholarship, and Sophia Veltfort ’12 is one of 36 students offered a Marshall Scholarship for the 2012-’13 academic year. Veltfort, an English major, said she will continue to study English and pursue a career in writing, and both Jack and Farrow have indicated that they plan to use the opportunity to assist marginalized groups such as the mentally ill and women and children in developing nations.
Jack, a double major in molecular, cellular and developmental biology and international studies, will pursue a master’s degree in evidence-based social intervention, while Farrow, who graduated from Bard College in 2004 with degrees in philosophy and biology, will study international development.
In the United States, two Rhodes Scholars are elected in each of 16 districts around the country. According to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, which awards the prizes, committees will select applicants based on outstanding intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service. Last year, two Yalies garnered the scholarships.
Jack said her study of public health reform at Oxford will build on her experiences at Yale. Through Yale’s Global Health Initiative, she spent two summers in Ghana working for the Earth Institute’s Millennium Cities Initiative, which assists cities in sub-Saharan Africa rise from poverty. She said she her senior thesis will focus on Ghana’s mental health systems using interviews with health professionals and other data she collected during the trips.
After earning a degree at Oxford, Jack said she hopes to continue her studies at medical school and then pursue a career as a physician and health advocate.
“I never in a million years thought I would win and am still realizing this is actually real,” Jack said in an interview last Monday. “I’m ultimately interested in seeing patients and working on global mental health policy, which is an issue that is still highly stigmatized and for which there is great need.”
Farrow, who did not respond to requests for comment, is focusing his efforts on international development. He is currently serving as special advisor to the secretary of state for global youth issues and director of the State Department’s Global Youth Issues office. Before joining the State Department in 2009 to address humanitarian issues, Farrow reported for newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. According to the United States’ State Department’s website, much of Farrow’s work has focused on engaging marginalized groups such as youth and women, and promoting the recognition of international human rights abroad.
“[The] Rhodes is a great honor and opportunity,” Farrow wrote on his Twitter page last Sunday. “But for now [I’m] very focused on fostering youth jobs and voices.”
With the Marshall Scholarship, Veltfort said she will study “literary portrayals of consciousness” in a two-year program at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
The Marshall Scholarship is awarded to roughly 40 undergraduate students each year, who are evaluated by three selection criteria: academic merit, leadership potential and ambassadorial potential. Last year, three Yalies were named Marshall Scholars.
Veltfort, whose essay “Identity” won the English Department’s Henry P. Wright Prize for a Descriptive Article last year, said she intends to continue writing on her own even though she may not take writing courses in the United Kingdom.
The Rhodes Scholarship winners this year were selected from a pool of 830 applicants endorsed by 299 different colleges and universities. Four students from Harvard, four from Princeton, four from Stanford and one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were also selected for the Rhodes class of 2012.