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Harvard College students Grace R. Kim ’23, Kavya M. Shah ’23, and Aristotle Vainikos ’23 were tapped as Marshall Scholars, the British government announced Monday.
The three are part of a cohort of 40 students selected from a total applicant pool of 951, according to a press release. The prestigious scholarship, established in 1953 by the British government, finances postgraduate study at any British university for American citizens.
Harvard produced the most Marshall Scholars this year, tying with Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. Kim, Shah, and Vainikos bring the College’s total number of Marshall Scholars up to 259, more than any other university — Princeton comes in second with 139.
Shah, a Chemical and Physical Biology concentrator in Lowell House and a former Crimson news editor, was sitting in Cabot library when he got the call, initially mistaking it for spam before checking the caller ID.
“Because I was on the second floor of Cabot, it was supposed to be a quiet spot, so I ran to the bathroom and then called them back,” Shah said. “I kind of had a bit of a freakout session in the bathroom, so that was fun.”
Though applicants were notified shortly after their interview, they were instructed to keep their award secret until Monday and were only allowed to tell their families in the interim.
Vainikos, a Government concentrator in Leverett House, said his first call went to his grandfather.
“He was very pleased. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I'm sure it was something encouraging in Greek,” he said. “And then I called my mom.”
Kim, who lives in Kirkland House and concentrates in Engineering Sciences, says she also called her family after finding out.
“When they first heard they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re really going to the UK!'" she said.
The application process began in the late spring and early summer for the scholars, who first had to receive Harvard’s endorsement to apply. The scholarship notified shortlisted candidates in October and held interviews in November.
The awardees said the application process helped them better understand their own academic interests.
Kim, whose work has focused on aerospace engineering and social impact, said the application helped her understand “how to actually support these communities through space.”
Vainikos said the process allowed him to better articulate his passions.
“It was useful in an intellectual sense, forcing me to put my thoughts together on what I like to learn and how to articulate the things that were interesting to me,” he said.
The three are in the process of applying to their universities of choice and hope to begin their studies in the UK this fall. The Marshall Scholarship does not guarantee admission to any British university and only finances the education.
Outside of the classroom, the scholars said they look forward to their time abroad.
“I'm a big fan of different kinds of architecture and sightseeing, different buildings,” Shah said. “I'm really excited to travel around the United Kingdom and honestly in other parts of Europe as well and just visit different kinds of buildings, different architectures.”
—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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