NU ties Yale for most Gates Cambridge scholarships, with 4

Christina Chaey

Northwestern tied with Yale University for the most Gates Cambridge Scholarship winners this year, with four students from each school receiving the honor.

“This is the best year ever,” said Sara Anson Vaux, director for the Office of Fellowships. “We were competing against the best schools in the country.”

Although the Gates Cambridge Trust’s Web site lists only four recipients as NU students, an official from the Office of Fellowships said a fifth student, who received his undergraduate degree from NU and worked through the office to apply for the award, has also been named a Gates Scholar. Chandler Robinson (WCAS ’06), the fifth student, was listed under Stanford University because he is currently enrolled as a medical student at that institution.

The recipients – Weinberg senior Kristin Buterbaugh, Braxton Boren (Music ’08), David Dillon (WCAS ’08), Victor Roy (Feinberg ’07) and Robinson – were among just 37 American students chosen from 752 applicants. Typically, 40 to 45 American students receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, out of about 100 total recipients, said Elizabeth Pardoe, associate director for the Office of Fellowships.

NU’s success with the scholarship was especially impressive this year, as the recent financial crisis caused the Gates Cambridge Trust to award fewer scholarships for 2009 than in previous years, Pardoe said. The Gates scholarships are awarded to students who have not only excelled academically in a particular realm, but are also “well-rounded human beings,” she added.

“The application process really helped me identify with what my real passions were right now academically and intellectually,” said Roy, who is currently the national executive director of GlobeMed, a student-led nonprofit organization that has branches at universities across the country.

Roy, who will study the intersection of the political economy and global health at Cambridge before applying to medical school, said he hopes to “effect change in the world” through his academic work.

The scholarships are perfect for students with diverse interests, said Buterbaugh, an American studies major who plans to study the integration of humanities and medicine. Buterbaugh, who is studying to become an OB/GYN, said she would eventually like to study immigrant women and reproductive health.

“I want to give them a voice when they usually don’t have one,” she said.

Dillon, who plans to study public health policy at Cambridge before getting a medical doctorate, said that even during the interview process, the final round before the winners are chosen, there are “101 people there who have the potential to change the world.”

Though the results for other major scholarships will not be made public until later in the year, Pardoe said she feels confident that NU will come away with the most scholarship winners nationwide for the 2009 academic year.

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