NU grad receives Gates, Luce scholarships

Christina Salter

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When Political Science Prof. Jerry Goldman met Andrew Gruen during Fall Quarter of Gruen’s freshman year, Goldman said he knew his student had potential.

“Andrew quickly impressed me as a student who had a little more going for him than most,” Goldman said.

Six years later, Gruen, Medill ’07, has proved Goldman’s prediction true. Gruen has been selected as a 2009-2010 Luce Scholar and also received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship in 2008, which will fund a doctorate in sociology, according to the Northwestern Office of Fellowships.

As one of 18 Luce scholars, Gruen will spend a year in Asia, receiving a stipend and professional internship placement. Gruen is currently working with the program coordinator to determine where he can best pursue the study of new media, said Elizabeth Pardoe, associate director of NU’s Office of Fellowships.

Nicole Ripley, Communication ’06 and a past NU Luce Scholar, said the Luce program aims to increase young Americans’ understanding of Asia through work in a wide variety of local organizations. She worked for a community theater in Thailand that educates the public on human rights issues.

“I was able to take an interest and career focus and place it in a foreign context,” Ripley said.

When Gruen returns, he will pursue his doctorate at the University of Cambridge. He was one of about 40 American students selected as Gates Cambridge scholars in 2008. He reapplied for the 2009 Gates Cambridge Scholarship to fund his doctorate.

Gruen won both the Luce and Gates awards for the same time period, but was able to defer his Gates funding, Pardoe said.

As a 2008 Gates Cambridge scholar, Gruen received funding for his past year as a graduate student on the Cambridge Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies faculty, studying the sociology of news.

Through his work at Cambridge and in Asia, Gruen said he hopes to gain an understanding of how societies shape media. He’s specifically interested in citizen journalism and its success in South Korea with organizations such as OhmyNews.

Gruen’s research was partly inspired by a Cambridge class on transitions to capitalism, he said. The effect of economic and government development on South Korean media sparked Gruen’s interest in why citizen journalism works in some communities and fails in others.

Participatory media is an important part of the future of journalism, especially as the industry continues to struggle, Gruen said.

“It would be irresponsible if we didn’t figure out how citizen journalism works and if it’s a viable option for the U.S.,” he said.

At NU, Gruen majored in journalism and political science. Goldman hired Gruen to work on his research, including the Oyez Project, a multimedia database on the U.S. Supreme Court. Goldman also helped arrange Gruen’s Teaching Media placement at the British Broadcasting Corporation in London.

Goldman said he and Gruen had discussed his research interests in new media in the past.

“I knew he would be at the leading edge of any inquiry that he sought to take,” Goldman said. “He has this exceptional ability to see a little bit further than the rest of us because of his familiarity with information technology.”

After graduation, Gruen worked as a digital executive producer for Hearst-Argyle Television in Orlando, Fla. for a year before winning his first Gates Scholarship.

Gruen’s openness and clearly defined goals were “essential” for his success in attaining his consecutive scholarships, Pardoe said.

“There are a precious few and extraordinarily remarkable students who manage to do so,” she said. “To have a double whammy like this beats all statistical odds.”