Gates scholars bring two-year award total to nine
Two Tech students were recently named recipients of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, bringing the number of students who have won prestigious scholarships in the last year to nine.
Throughout the last year, Tech students received Rhodes, Truman, Marshall, Goldwater and Fulbright scholarships.
Jay Silver, an electrical engineering major set to graduate in May and Nick Bronn, who has two bachelor's degrees, one in physics and another in applied mathematics, as well as a master's in electrical engineering, join the ranks of scholarship winners by being named Gates Scholars.
Their awards, endowed by Microsoft founded Bill Gates, will provide for the two students to study at Cambridge University in England beginning next fall. Silver will pursue a master's degree in computer speech, text and Internet technology, while Bronn will study applied math and theoretical physics.
Both students plan to pursue careers in academia. Bronn currently researches advanced radar techniques at Johns Hopkins University and hopes to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics after he returns from Cambridge. Silver also plans to become a professor, though he prefers to work at a college where he can focus more on teaching than research.
In addition to their passions for teaching and learning, both students also share an appreciation for the advice they received from Amanda Gable in the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.
Gable is one of a number of individuals at Tech who has been working to increase the number of students who apply for prestigious scholarships like the Gates.
In the past two years, Tech students have won more prestigious scholarships than Tech students won in the previous ten.
Paul Hurst, Director of Marketing and Special Programs, believes that the difference is more students know about the awards-due in part to a change in the way his office does business.
"A few years ago...we started having information sessions where we invite the whole campus, and we tell them about the various scholarships, how to apply and what qualities each award is looking for," said Hurst.
These information sessions came out of an informal steering committee formed by Hurst to address prestigious scholarship issues. Before the committee existed, students and professors usually distributed information about the scholarships via word of mouth.
Because of the lack of information being distributed, a number of potential scholars may have been overlooked. Now many first and second-year students hear about the scholarships.
"It was really interesting hearing about so many different scholarships and grants available for undergrad and graduate programs and learning about when and how to get started on applying for them," said BenLawder, a second-year Management major.
"Talking to Georgia Tech winners of some of the scholarships and hearing their perspectives on the application and interview process was definitely helpful and informative."
"I think if students get advice earlier in their academic career, they can make better choices about pursuing courses that would broaden and deepen their education," said Gable.
Gable, Hurst, Engineering Assistant Dean Jane Weyant and Associate Director of the Office of International Education Amy Bass Henry work with students from the information sessions to the interview process. They help the students complete their applications and train them for their intense interviews with mock sessions.
Their work seems to pay off; recent Rhodes Scholar Will Roper and Marshall Scholar Andy Ozment noted the importance of staff support in winning their recognitions.
"Tech has plenty of people who could have achieved this distinction. The only way I was able to do it was with the help of the faculty and staff," said Ozment.
Tech officials also believe the student body is full of budding scholarship recipients.
"The caliber and sweep of scholarships that our students are winning shows not only that quality students come to Georgia Tech, but also that the quality of the education received is equivalent to any in the country," said Institute President Wayne Clough.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Affairs Robert McMath also noted that the scholarship winners reflect positively on the entire educational system in Georgia, since five of the nine winners were in-state students.
"I think it says a lot about the educational system in this state that we have so many students going on to win these honors," said McMath.
Each award is different, but each prestigious scholarship usually provides a winner with funding that covers the cost of education and living at an undergraduate or graduate program.
The competition for these awards is stiff. 925 universitystudents competed for the Rhodes Scholarship this year in the United States and only 32 winners. Since its inception in 1903, the Rhodes Scholarship Trust has given awards to 2,950 American students. Over ten percent of those have gone to students from Harvard, 28 percent to students from the eight Ivy League schools. The average value of a Rhodes is $28,000 per year.
Over the years, many scholars have moved into leadership positions. Former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter are Rhodes winners. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is a Marshall alumnus, and former Clinton advisor George Stepanopolous has won both the Truman and the Rhodes.
More information about presigious scholarships can be found online at www.hardy.gatech.edu/prestige.