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Two students receive Marshall scholarship

Published: Monday, April 26, 2004

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

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By Will Loyd


Next fall, two Texas A&M graduates will set foot on the University of Sussex campus in the United Kingdom to begin their graduate studies as part of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship.

Maya Weilundemo, a senior English major, and Josh Siepel, a senior genetics major, are two of only three Aggies ever selected as Marshall Scholars.

This is the first time A&M has had two Marshall Scholars in the same year, said Marcella Ellis, national scholarships coordinator in the office of honors programs and academic scholarships.

Ellis said the Marshall Scholarship is a highly competitive process that seeks to identify and advance future leaders who have strong ambition and an understanding of the world, current events and their place as scholars.

"They look for students who want to make a difference in their lives and have demonstrated that through their involvement and their activities within their organizations," Ellis said. "Josh and Maya both fit that description very broadly."

As co-founder and president of the campus Green Party, editor of undergraduate humanities journal AGORA and member of numerous other campus activities, Weilundemo displayed her passion for involvement.

Weilundemo said that even though school work is crucial to be successful, one must enjoy anything he becomes involved in.

"Academics are important, but what's more important is to be dedicated to your interests," Weilundemo said.

Weilundemo said she will study creative writing at the University of Sussex.

During his studies at A&M, Siepel was the Memorial Student Center Jordan Institute chair for two years, during which he helped begin service programs in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Siepel was also in an a capella singing group and MSC Town Hall.

"I think the best thing is to keep up a broad range of interests, work on whatever it is you're passionate about your field," Siepel said. "Make yourself as well-rounded a person as possible and take advantage of all the things the University offers."

Siepel said he will study science and technology policy related to agricultural biotechnology during his time in the United Kingdom.

"To be given the opportunity to represent the United States and A&M is a phenomenal opportunity," Siepel said.

This year, 44 American students were selected to receive Marshall Scholarships. Weilundemo and Siepel were among a group of more than 1,000 students who applied for the scholarship, Ellis said.

The Marshall Scholarship was founded in 1953 to commemorate the implementation of the Marshall Plan, which gave aid to the United Kingdom after World War II.

Every year, the highly selective scholarship gives about 40 American graduates the chance to spend two years studying in the United Kingdom at the university of their choice, Ellis said.

The scholarship is extensive, and covers the cost of university fees, living expenses, books, research and thesis grants, travel fares and if applicable, a contribution toward the support of a dependent spouse, Ellis said.

Students who are interested in applying for a Marshall Scholarship must submit a preliminary application to the honors office, Ellis said.

If invited, students complete an interview with the scholarship selection committee. If extended one of Texas A&M's nominations, the student then works over the summer to refine his application before the October deadline.

"This scholarship is designed for students who are not necessarily just interested in just leadership at A&M, but seek to accomplish things that make the world a better place."

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