Two Georgetown University students and one recent alumnus have been awarded the Marshall scholarship, a two-year, nonrestrictive, fully funded scholarship to study in the United Kingdom.
Rebecca Kuang (SFS ’18), Annee Lyons (COL ’18) and Ben Johnson (NHS ’17) plan to further their academic careers on completely different paths from one another — ancient Chinese history, classics and aerospace medicine, respectively.
Forty-three scholars were chosen nationwide as winners of the highly sought scholarship this year. Georgetown has produced six winners in the past two years.
John Glavin, the director of the Office of Fellowships, Awards and Resources said it takes years of planning to receive a Marshall scholarship.
“You can’t just decide the summer before your senior year that you’d like to win one of these, because you have to carefully think about your choices and how you’re doing things and be ready by the time you’re a senior,” Glavin said.
Johnson and Kuang credit much of their success to the Carroll Fellowship Initiative, a four-year intensive honors program with the aim of preparing students for a future in fellowship and success. Lyons did not participate in the program as an underclassman, but entered the program the summer before her senior year.
“We are trained to think in ways that would make us competitive for these things, and we’re encouraged to do something called the ‘CRIG,’ creativity, risk-taking, independence and grit,” Kuang said.
The recipients described the scholarship as a chance to foster an international community between the United States and the United Kingdom, citing it as one of the most important draws for them.
“Marshall Scholars are encouraged to be ambassadors for these two countries, and as someone who’s never been to the U.K., being a part of that legacy is really cool to me,” Kuang said.
Kuang plans to study the legacy of warfare in China at Cambridge University with the Marshall Scholarship.
“For the longest time, the [People’s Republic of China] suppressed the history of World War II because it makes them look really bad. What I’m looking at is how China remembers the trauma of World War II now,” Kuang said.
Kuang’s interest in the region developed after she studied abroad in Beijing the summer following her sophomore year. She said the experience inspired her to write a novel about modern Chinese history.
“I got super into researching the past, and our relationship to the past and how we deal with the ghost of memories,” Kuang said.
Kuang hopes to be a professor of modern Chinese history after obtaining a Master of Philosophy at Cambridge.
Her novel “The Poppy War” is slated to be published in May by HarperCollins Publishers.
Lyons, a classics major, plans to obtain a Master of Philosophy at the University of Oxford with the Marshall Scholarship. She said she appreciates the academic community at Oxford as it relates to her interests in history.
“There are people at Oxford who have opened up ancient history to more social history, looking at slaves, women, the illiterate, seeing that experience. So much of that history was thrown in the trash, it wasn’t valuable. Now, it’s starting to be revalued,” Lyons said.
After her time in the United Kingdom, Lyons hopes to ultimately become a classics professor where she can “get paid to talk about [classics] all the time.”
Johnson, a human science major, pursued his interests in both mental health and medicine at Georgetown through Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service and Project Lighthouse, a campus mental health advocacy and support group. With the Marshall Scholarship, Johnson plans to obtain two master’s degrees: one in human cognitive neurophysiology at the University of Edinburgh and one in space physiology and health at King’s College of London.
As a first-year medical student at Johns Hopkins University, Johnson will take a leave of absence for two years. He plans to finish medical school after his time in the United Kingdom, but he said the opportunities he will gain from his time abroad outweigh any inconvenience.
“My experience internationally collaborating with space researchers with other countries and the U.K. and the European space agency will be invaluable with making those very strong bonds and continuing to capitalize on international partnerships and what that can bring us in terms of future space missions,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he hopes Georgetown students will pursue their interests no matter how trivial they may seem.
“When I started I never would’ve thought that mental health would have come along for the ride, but it’s become such a big part of my interests,” Johnson said.