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Two Receive Marshall Scholarships

Senior Rhaina Cohen and alumna Chelsea Glenn selected to study in United Kingdom

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November 26, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold

Alumna Chelsea Glenn (left) and Senior Rhaina Cohen (right) selected to study in United Kingdom. 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Rhaina Cohen, a Northwestern University undergraduate with a passion for gender equality and policy, and Chelsea Glenn, a summa cum laude 2013 Northwestern alumna with a passion for social change, were awarded Marshall Scholarships this week.

The double win marks the fourth time that Northwestern has claimed two of the highly prestigious international scholarships in the same year. The Marshalls were established in 1953 as a British gesture of thanks to the people of the United States for assistance they received under the Marshall Plan after World War II.

Cohen, an American studies major from East Brunswick, New Jersey, will study comparative social policy for two years in a master’s program at the University of Oxford.

“Rhaina Cohen has a special curiosity about what American social policy looks like when viewed in comparison to the social policies of modern European nations,” said Robert Orsi, professor of religious studies and history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “She is a true international thinker.”

Glenn, who majored in economics and international studies, is currently a Fulbright-García Robles Scholar in Mexico City, conducting research on the effects of easily accessible consumer credit on household welfare. As a Marshall Scholar, she will spend one year at Oxford in a master’s degree program in development economics and one year at the University of Sussex working on a master’s in globalization in development.

“I expect Chelsea Glenn will make significant contributions in the field of international development,” said Brian Hanson, director of Northwestern’s Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies. “She is truly passionate about human justice and the need for social change.” 

“I attribute Northwestern’s success in the Marshall Scholarships in part to the perfect match between the United Kingdom’s strong academic programs and the intellectual heft of our students across disciplines,” said Sara Anson Vaux. Vaux, director of the Office of Fellowships, notes that Cohen and Glenn are the 16th and 17th Northwestern Marshall winners since the office opened in 1998.

Cohen expects to work in broadcast journalism covering social policy after completing her study at Oxford. She hopes eventually to hold a position in which she can not only influence what issues media cover and how they are covered but also ensure that journalists include women, people of color and individuals from low-income backgrounds. 

While an undergraduate, Cohen interned for CBS News and ABC News. Among the stories she covered were the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and the United Nations address by Malala Yousafzi, the young Pakistani education activist nearly killed by the Taliban. Cohen also held two internships with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York’s junior senator.

Both Cohen and Glenn were involved in the establishment of Northwestern’s Women’s Caucus, an organization designed to promote women’s leadership. 

As director and executive board member of the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights, Glenn taught a for-credit class for 12 undergraduates on forced migration, raised $40,000 and directed a staff of 80 to put on one of the largest student-led human rights conferences in the nation.

Glenn’s first on-the-ground experience of community development work was in Bolivia through Northwestern’s Global Engagement Studies Institute. She and a team of American students were tasked with expanding an HIV education program for Bolivian teens. Glenn, who is fluent in Spanish, said the salient lesson was learning that local community leaders know more than outsiders and should always be consulted.

Glenn applied that lesson when, with an undergraduate research grant, she did research for her senior thesis at two Ethiopian refugee camps. Exploring the economic coping strategies of long-time refugees, she interviewed both refugees and experienced humanitarian workers.

Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships -- particularly senior associate director Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe and director Vaux -- provided valuable assistance to Glenn and Cohen throughout the long Marshall application and interview process. The office assists students and alumni in expanding and deepening their intellectual pursuits and commitment to global service.

Financed by the British Government, the Marshall Scholarships provide an opportunity for American students who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership potential to continue their studies for two years at any British university. 

Read more about Chelsea Glenn and Rhaina Cohen

Topics: People, University