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Graduate Wins Marshall Scholarship

Jacob White will head for Oxford to work in development studies with focus on poverty

November 23, 2010 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Jacob White, a 2009 Northwestern University graduate known for his robust intellectualism and strong humanitarian impulses, has been named a Marshall Scholar and soon will head off to the University of Oxford to do graduate work in development studies. His ultimate goal is to increase opportunities for children in developing countries. 

Among the most sought after honors for undergraduates, Marshall Scholarships provide students with at least two fully funded years of study at universities in the United Kingdom. Coordinated through major British embassy/consulate regions in the United States, scholars are chosen from an extremely competitive pool of Americans nominated by their undergraduate institutions.  

White has studied in Greece, worked with children in Uganda and currently is working as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, teaching English and tutoring in basic math and literacy. 

His interview for the Marshall scholarship was telling, according to Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, associate director of Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships. “He fielded questions from what constitutes a strong development program to the nitty-gritty of school policy in the state of Oregon.” 

White majored in history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. While at Oxford, he intends to work with the Young Lives Project, an international study of child poverty, and with Oxfam, an international confederation aimed at finding lasting solutions to injustice, including poverty.  

His strong concern for others and for the state from which he hails is reflected throughout his resume. White, who grew up in Portland, Ore., and whose family originally was from Baker City, a tiny ranching town in the eastern part of the state, is deeply concerned with preserving Oregon’s natural beauty. In the summer of 2008, he worked in an internship in Oregon politics. 

At Northwestern, he worked two jobs, for a total of 20 hours per week, to help fund his education. 

“Somehow he found time to design and teach an undergraduate seminar on Byzantine history during his final year at Northwestern, while maintaining his humanitarian ideals through tutoring and participating as a leader in Alternative Spring Break,” said Sara Anson Vaux, director of Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships.   

White mentored underprivileged youth during all four years at Northwestern, working his way up to a leadership position in Project SOAR, a community-based mentoring program headquartered in the McGaw YMCA in Evanston. 

He rarely left Oregon until he came to Northwestern, and the virtues of a Northwestern education, with its possibilities for personal transformation, run all through his conversations, according to Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships. “We were struck by the ways Jacob’s early life continues to motivate his steadily unfolding commitment to education in the Dominican Republic and beyond,” Pardoe said. 

White’s stories resonate with his ease of movement within multiple communities, whether in Oregon or Uganda, Vaux added. “He played basketball and soccer in Uganda and often sat around listening to elders’ and children’s stories. And in the Dominican Republic, where he now lives, he regularly is a guest on a radio show.”

The Marshall Scholarship was established in 1953 by the British Parliament to honor former U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall and to commemorate the ideals of the Marshall Plan, widely known for the major role the American effort played in rebuilding Europe after World War II. The program is designed not only to provide education at leading universities but also to offer insights into the British way of life, with the goal of building upon and strengthening relations between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Topics: People