Three Yale students have been awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships: prestigious fellowships that fully fund recipients to pursue postgraduate degrees at the University of Cambridge.
William Theiss ’16, Joshua Feinzig ’16 and Sofia Singler ARC ’16 were among 32 others chosen for the scholarship from a pool of 826 American students. Around 55 students from other countries will be informed of their selection in early April. The Gates Cambridge Scholarship was established in 2000 through a $210 million donation to Cambridge from Bill and Melinda Gates and serves to build a network of leaders dedicated to improving the lives of others, according to the organization’s website. The three Yale students were shortlisted for interviews at the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle in late January and were notified of their selection shortly thereafter.
“The Gates Cambridge Scholarship was appealing for its overall generosity, financial and otherwise,” Singler said. “A full scholarship for a humanities Ph.D. is a tremendous privilege in itself, but additionally, the chance to join a tight-knit network of scholars from various different fields — all leading experts in their own disciplines — makes the scholarship all the more valuable.”
Singler, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in architecture at Cambridge next year with a focus in modernist architectural history theory, said that she was impressed with the Gates Cambridge Scholarship alumni network, which will allow her to connect with more experienced thinkers in her field.
Also speaking to the connections that the scholarship affords participants, Theiss said that, at Cambridge, he will have the opportunity to meet two scholars of early modern intellectual history he admires, Ulinka Rublack and Scott Mandelbrote, the latter of whom will be his advisor.
Theiss — who is a literature major at Yale — will enroll in an M.Phil. program in early modern history, which is meant to prepare students for future research in European intellectual history. He said his research will center on Willibald Pirckheimer, a lawyer and scholar who worked in Nuremberg during the Protestant Reformation.
“The coursework is exciting,” Theiss said. “On one day, I heard, we receive a research assignment in the morning, head to the archives and turn in a report by evening — and I’ll have the chance to write a dissertation in the enormously rich libraries around Cambridge and London.”
Feinzig, an ethics, politics and economics major, said he hopes to use the scholarship to search for the answers to intellectual questions that have plagued him as an undergraduate, which he said run at the intersection of disciplines like intellectual history, sociology, psychology and political theory.
Feinzig will be studying for an M.Phil. in criminology at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology. He said he is particularly interested in deviance, punishment and state legitimacy.
“I hope studying at Cambridge will allow me think about some of these questions from new angles and cross-national perspectives,” Feinzig said. “I’m also looking forward to developing friendships with other scholars from a host of different disciplines and countries.”
Over 1,500 Gates Cambridge Scholarships have been awarded since its founding.