Marshall-ing Its Resources for Academic Honors
Scholarship Winners | Two graduating seniors, Harveen Bal C’05 and Gabriel Mandujano C’05 W’05, will take to the land of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the Queen Mother next fall to study under the auspices of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. Each year the Marshall bankrolls the tuition and living expenses at any university in the United Kingdom for about 40 American graduate students. In December, Penn carved a new notch into its academic belt, for the first time having two Marshall winners during the same academic year.
According to Dr. Arthur Casciato, director of Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF), this success stems not only from the outstanding academic achievements of Penn students, but also from the increased efforts by the University to encourage them to apply for these awards.
Since CURF’s creation five years ago, the number of applications submitted by Penn to the national competition has gone from single digits to dozens. “The main contribution to getting this award was getting the appropriate numbers to apply,” Casciato says. “We won our fair share once we got our fair share of applicants.” In the 47 years of the Marshall Scholarship before CURF, Penn graduates were awarded a total of three; in the last five years, Penn has collected four.
Marshall recipient Harveen Bal will attend the University of Oxford next year to do graduate work in Third World development studies. A health and societies major concentrating in international healthcare, Bal plans to study the way in which healthcare is currently delivered and can be improved in developing nations.
Last summer she worked in a sickle-cell-anemia pediatric clinic in Ghana, and she has also spent time in India working with a healthcare non-governmental organization.
After her time at Oxford, she will attend medical school with the ultimate goal of working for an international organization such as the UN or Doctors Without Borders to improve healthcare infrastructure in developing countries.
Bal gives Casciato credit for helping her prepare for interviews. “If nothing else, you learn something about yourself,” she says of the Marshall competition. “It was a great experience, but it was really nerve-wracking.”
Those nerves didn’t show, according to Casciato, who pointed to Bal’s calm and peaceful demeanor as being the trump card of her already outstanding application, particularly as she entered the final round of the interview process. “During the practice interviews she always had very considered answers. A kind of integrity shines through when you talk to her,” he says, adding: “The first time she walked into a practice interview I knew she had a chance.”
Her classmate, Gabriel Mandujano, has chosen to follow his matriculation in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business by pursuing a master’s degree in comparative politics, with a concentration on Latin American government, at the London School of Economics. Afterward, he’ll work toward a master’s in international housing.
Mandujano works for a local community-development corporation in Philadelphia, and he cites studying abroad in Cuba as a major factor in his decision to delve into Latin American politics.
“Housing interests me as a field of study because the lack of access to affordable housing is one of those really complex problems that you need a whole lot of perspectives to understand; you need to understand politics, finance, urban design, the dynamics of cities, and a whole long list of other things in order to create innovative solutions to improve housing outcomes,” he said, and credited Penn with providing him that wide foundation.
“When you read his application, you can’t help but want to meet him,” Casciato says, commenting on Mandujano’s “multifaceted” personality, commitment to community service, and grounded reasoning. “He can take irreconcilable differences and put them together in a way that seems natural.”
This year marks only the third year that Penn has won more than one Marshall, Rhodes Scholarship, or a combination of the two. The most recent was 2001, when Penn took one of each, but before CURF the timeline stretches back to 1926 when Penn had two Rhodes Fellows.
Patrick Brugh C’05
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