For most college seniors, graduate study at Oxford would probably seem like a daunting challenge. For Kristin Hall and G.J. Melendez-Torres, who will both study there on Marshall Scholarships next year, it may well sound like a respite.
Both have blazed a trail through dual-degree programs at Penn: Hall as a student in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, earning a B.S. in economics from Wharton and a B.A. in international studies from the College; Melendez-Torres in the joint Nursing and Health Care Program, working toward one B.S. in nursing and another in economics in health-care management and policy from Wharton.
Both have been extraordinarily active outside the classroom. Melendez-Torres chaired the United Minorities Council and is the speaker of the Undergraduate Assembly. Hall spent part of her freshman year in Botswana, working for an organization that aims to promote private-sector investment and also researching the impact of HIV/AIDS on service-industry businesses. She then worked with the Grassroots Business Fund in Washington and Tanzania, evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of microfinance loans; and later got involved in Youth Bank, an innovative business-incubator for street youth in Lagos, Nigeria, that was started by Huntsman Program alumni Clara Chow C’07 W’07 and Joyce Meng C’08 W’08 [“Gazetteer,” Jan|Feb 2008].
At Oxford, Hall intends to study development economics. “The Huntsman Program has given me a good background in development issues and business,” she says, “but I’m hoping [Oxford] will provide a rigorous quantitative framework.”
Melendez-Torres will pursue a master’s of philosophy in evidence-based social intervention, a field that focuses on evaluating the efficacy of public-health programs and applying that knowledge to improve decision-making. He hopes it will build on the balance he found at Penn between clinical experience and economic analysis. “The idea of being a clinician is so important to all the work that I do,” he says. “But at the same time, I couldn’t imagine doing anything that doesn’t really make use of the education I’ve been given at Wharton—looking at healthcare markets critically, and analyzing the dynamics of healthcare policy from economic, management, and marketing points of view.”
On second thought, respite is probably the wrong word.—T.P.