Two current Yale students and one alumnus — Jeremy Kessler ’06, Andrew Kau ’06 and Adam Jed ’03 — have been selected along with 37 other Americans and approximately 100 students worldwide as recipients of the Gates Cambridge scholarship.
This year’s scholars, who were notified on Feb. 5, were chosen from an American pool of about 600 applicants. Recipients of the scholarship, which pays full tuition and other expenses for each winner, are selected based on their academic achievement and their plans for advanced study.
This year, only Princeton and Northwestern universities — with five and four recipients, respectively — had more honorees than Yale. Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley tied with Yale, which had the same number of recipients this year as last.
Yale’s three scholars said they were happy to have been accepted to Cambridge and to have been awarded the funding for their scholarship.
Kau said he plans to pursue a master’s degree in medieval and Renaissance literature, focusing on the works of John Milton. He said he was attracted to Cambridge for several reasons.
“Milton went to Cambridge, so there’s the sentimental and cultural value, as well as working with the Miltonists there,” Kau said. “Going to study in England to study a major poet is an unduplicable experience.”
Anne Fadiman, an English professor who taught Kau in a writing seminar last spring, said she was impressed by Kau’s unique, meticulous writing style, sense of humor — Kau is a former editor-in-chief of the Yale Record — and the skill and effort with which he critiqued his peers’ essays.
“His writing style is brilliantly and unrepentantly 19th century at the latest,” Fadiman said. “It is nuanced and it is ironic, but it is never dusty. I have never found another person who found his voice at such an early age.”
Kessler, who attended the same school as Kau in ninth grade, will pursue a master’s degree in history, philosophy, and sociology of science, technology and medicine, which he said he plans to use to approach literature in an atypical way.
“I had done a lot of work in literature and I am still interested in it, but I am also interested in expanding this to a scientific approach,” Kessler said. “I saw that at many points in history a particular thinker about literature had all these sorts of assumptions from contemporary science that weren’t attributed but were seen as a given.”
Kessler’s approach to comparative literature, particularly in his ability to come up with fresh interpretations on literature, are what make him stand out, said Haun Saussy, a professor of literature and East Asian languages and literature. He said Cambridge is the perfect place for Kessler to pursue these interests before his plans for a doctorate and a career in education.
“[The Cambridge faculty is] very alert to society and how science has a role in its culture and its time,” Saussy said. “He has a unique historical take and interest in how psychoanalysis became a discipline, not just in applying it to literature.”
Both Kau and Kessler said they were happy to hear that the other had also been awarded the Gates, and look forward to seeing each other as they pursue their studies.
Jed, who currently attends Harvard Law School, said he plans to pursue a master’s degree in modern society and global transformations if he decides to attend Cambridge with the Gates, though he said he is also still a contender for a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Oxford University.
“I’m particularly interested in comparative legal issues, particularly in European law, and the Gates and other scholarships are good ways to open some doors and study in the U.K.,” Jed said.
Jed said his studies will focus primarily on European discrimination law and civil rights issues common to Europe and the United States.