Graduate receives elite Marshall grant

Allan Madrid

A Fulbright scholar and a member of the 2004 World Champion Jump Rope Team, Ankur Bahl, Medill ’03, can add yet another accomplishment to his already impressive resume — a Marshall Scholarship.

Bahl is one of 43 college graduates across the nation who were recognized as 2005 Marshall Scholars in December. Using the funds from the scholarship, Bahl plans to pursue a master’s degree in migration and diaspora studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a second master’s in performance at Goldsmiths College at the University of London.

“It is a great honor to have my work recognized by such a prestigious organization,” Bahl said in a telephone interview from France. “(The scholarship will allow me to) study ethnic minorities, especially Indian immigrants, those which are closest to my heart.”

A student of Indian classical dance since age 6, Bahl plans to take individual elements from Western and Indian dance to create a unique dance performance that will communicate the experience of Indian immigrants.

“If you take the Indian dance form and Western dance traditions and meld them together, you can talk about hybrid identities such as those experienced by immigrants,” Bahl said.

Bahl, a native Californian, is currently on a Fulbright Scholarship in France studying Western dance traditions.

Although Bahl is pursuing master’s degrees in other fields, he said he still plans to work as a journalist.

“(My studies) fit well with journalism because a broadcast package is an art form in itself, and any good journalist is also a good anthropologist,” he said.

While at Northwestern, he wrote, anchored and produced a 30-minute documentary about Bosnian and Serbian immigrants in Chicago. He also wrote an article about the experiences of American Pakistanis after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The article eventually was featured in The Chicago Reporter.

“(Bahl) was a terrific journalist with an intriguing mind,” said Joseph Angotti, director of Medill’s broadcast program. “He was always coming up with original story ideas that he executed pretty well.”

Bahl’s talents are not limited to academics and the arts. He has been practicing the sport of jump roping competitively for the last 14 years, and he has received the Team World Championship, U.S. National Event Championship and Team USA Captainship titles.

“(My jump-roping accomplishments) have allowed me to travel the world and meet different types of people from different cultures,” Bahl said. “This cultural exchange has encouraged me to spend some time abroad through the Fulbright and now through the Marshall Scholarship.”

The Marshall Scholarship, one of the most selective in the nation, is offered to American students who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership potential. It allows them to continue their studies at any British university. Last year an NU senior and a recent alumna both were named Marshall Scholars.

According to Christopher Hager of NU’s Office of Fellowships, usually only 40 students are chosen from the 800 to 1,000 applicants.

“(Bahl) presented a clear vision of what he wanted to study at a British institution,” Hager said. “He represents a more unconventional student who fused his talents to succeed, showing the ways in which students can draw on the strengths of the university.”

Reach Allan Madrid at [email protected].