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A record 10 ASU students, alumni nominated for Marshall, Rhodes and Mitchell scholarships


Silhouettes of a group of people in front of a sunset holding their hands in the air in the shape of an ASU pitchfork.
October 18, 2022

The Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement has announced that a record 10 Arizona State University students and alumni have been nominated for the Marshall, Rhodes and Mitchell scholarships, three of the most prestigious international fellowships in existence.

The Marshall Scholarship provides full support for two years of graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom, while the Rhodes Scholarship provides full funding for two years of post-graduate study at Oxford University. The Mitchell Scholarship provides full funding for a one-year master’s degree in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Together, these three scholarships are considered among the most prestigious academic awards available for American students. Famous Marshall Scholars include Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Neil Gorsuch, MacArthur Fellowship-winning psychologist Angela Duckworth and Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. Notable American Rhodes Scholars include President Bill Clinton, MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow, former National Security advisor Susan Rice and current Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

The ASU nominees include graduating fourth-year students Fiona Flaherty, John Luce, Katie Sue Pascavis, Anusha Natarajan, Joseph Pitts, Nathaniel Ross, Emma Strouse and Julie Kaplan. Additionally, recent ASU graduates Saiarchana Darira and Tahiry Langrand received nominations.

“While this cohort of applicants is the largest that ASU has ever seen, I daresay that it is also one of the most intellectually diverse,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean of national scholarship advisement. “As a group, they illustrate the wide range of scholarly and experiential opportunities available at ASU.”

As the director of ONSA, Mox serves as the designated ASU liaison for the Marshall, Rhodes and Mitchell scholarship programs and oversees the campus nomination process for the awards, which are among the most selective fellowships in the world, with selection rates typically below 5%.

To apply, candidates nationwide must be nominated by their undergraduate institution. The selection of ASU nominees is done by a faculty committee that considers a range of factors, including the applicants’ academic records, leadership and service activities, previous awards and honors, and letters of recommendation.

“All of the students who seek nomination are among the top 5% of ASU students, academically speaking,” Mox said. “But what makes this group of nominees stand apart is their clear sense of purpose. To be successful, a candidate needs to be able to articulate a clear career objective that will provide a benefit to society or attempt to solve a major global issue.”

Given the rigor of the competitions, applicants typically spend weeks or even months preparing their materials, which include several essays and up to eight letters of recommendation.

“It isn’t unusual for a candidate to spend over 100 hours on a Marshall or Rhodes application,” Mox said.

Each of the awards requires a substantial amount of writing, including summaries of proposed graduate study, motivation for studying in the United Kingdom or Ireland, and descriptions of leadership accomplishments. A substantial personal statement summarizing the applicant’s personal background, academic and professional preparation, core values and future goals is the centerpiece.

“Many applicants find this process emotionally taxing,” Mox said. “They’ve never had to do this sort of writing before, and it can be hard to find the right strategy.”

Between April and September, applicants engage in pre-writing and brainstorming activities, craft outlines and compose multiple drafts of the application essays, all under the guidance of ONSA advisors and their own faculty mentors.

Despite the difficulty of the application process, most nominees find the process rewarding, regardless of the final outcome.

“So seldom do we get the opportunity to set down in words our own goals and vision for the future,” Mox said. “It can be a challenging task, but once complete, it makes you a better leader.”             

Once the students are officially nominated, their applications are forwarded to the national selection committees for each fellowship. If selected as finalists, the nominees will be invited to interviews by regional selection panels. The Marshall Scholarship selects approximately 40 scholars per year, while the Rhodes Scholarship selects 32 American recipients per year, two per district. Up to 12 Mitchell Scholarships are awarded per year.

Each program provides similar, significant benefits. In addition to full financial support for travel, tuition and living expenses, the Marshall, Rhodes and Mitchell scholarship provide leadership development and cross-cultural engagement opportunities, along with the advantage of a world-class peer network.

The programs differ in terms of mission, however. Named in honor of the Marshall Plan, the Marshall Scholarship seeks to maintain the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K., and therefore closely evaluates the potential of each candidate to be an effective ambassador. The Marshall Scholarship program also encourages its recipients to engage deeply with British culture and society during their history.

Similarly, the Mitchell Scholarship honors U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process and is intended to introduce and connect generations of future American leaders to the island of Ireland.

The Rhodes Scholarship, named for Cecil Rhodes, has a more global focus. In addition to the 32 American students, it also invites 78 other scholars from around the world to the cohort, including students from several African countries, the Caribbean, Germany, China and Australia. The hope is that this international cohort will, over their careers, collaborate to address global issues.

In recent years, ASU has seen significant success in the Rhodes and Marshall scholarship competitions. In the 2021 cycle, Alexander Sojourney was awarded a Marshall Scholarship and is currently studying at Oxford, after having completed a master’s degree in politics, development and the global south at Goldsmiths, University of London. He was preceded by Frank Smith in 2018 and Erin Schulte in 2017. In total, 19 ASU graduates have won Marshall Scholarships since the program’s inception in 1954.

In the past five years, ASU has produced two Rhodes Scholars, Ngoni Mugwisi in 2017 and Shantel Marekera in 2019. Both are from Zimbabwe and were Mastercard Foundation Scholars at ASU. Historically, ASU has produced five American Rhodes Scholars, with the most recent being Phillip Ryan Mann in 2001.

Meet the nominees:

• Senior journalism and mass communications major and Barrett, The Honors College student Fiona Flaherty has been nominated for the Marshall Scholarship. Flaherty is originally from Arlington, Virginia, and graduated from Yorktown High School. She has served as a sustainability reporter for Arizona PBS and as a science communications and news intern for NASA. If awarded the Marshall Scholarship, she will attend Oxford University and pursue a master’s degree in environmental change and management.

• A native of Hermosa Beach, California, and graduate of Redondo Union High School, senior Barrett Honors College student John Luce will graduate from ASU in May 2023 with bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry, economics and global health. Luce serves in leadership for the Refugee Education and Clinic Team (REACT) and is a mission team leader for the Next Generation Service Corps. If awarded the Marshall Scholarship, he will pursue a master’s degree in health economics at York University.

• Katie Sue Pascavis is originally from Bloomington, Illinois, and graduated from Basha High School. A dual major in mechanical engineering and global health, she will graduate in May 2023 with honors from Barrett. A Goldwater Scholar and a Udall Scholar, she is president of the ASU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, founder of the GlobalResolve Club and the North American representative to the Global 4-H Youth Committee. If awarded a Marshall Scholarship, she will attend University of Cambridge and pursue an Master of Philosophy in engineering for sustainable development.

• Saiarchana Darira has been nominated for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. She graduated from ASU with honors from Barrett in August 2022, with degrees in peace studies, psychology and global management. Originally from Prescott, Arizona, Darira graduated from Tri-City College Prep High School. She has served as a research assistant in the Global Mental Health lab at Pitzer College and is an assistant producer for Turn it Around! Flashcards for Education Futures, a learning tool developed by ASU Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and supported by UNESCO. If awarded a Marshall Scholarship or a Rhodes Scholarship, she will attend Oxford and pursue a master’s degree in environmental change and management.

• A May 2022 ASU graduate, Tahiry Langrand has been nominated for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. A Udall Scholar and Fulbright alternate, he completed a bachelor’s degree in sustainability, with a Spanish minor with honors from Barrett. A native of Reston, Virginia, he attended South Lakes High School. During his time at ASU, he co-founded Constellation, which coordinates sustainability student projects between the three Arizona universities. He was also president of the ASU chapter of the National Audubon Society and served as a student ambassador for the ASU School of Sustainability. If awarded either fellowship, he will attend the University of Oxford and pursue a master’s degree in biodiversity, conservation and management.

• Nominated for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships, Barrett senior Anusha Natarajan will graduate in May 2023 with bachelor’s degrees in sociology, history, political science and applied quantitative science with honors from Barrett. A native of Gilbert, Arizona, she graduated from Hamilton High School. At ASU, she founded the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies Digital Humanities Journal and works as a reporter and is the chief diversity officer for the State Press. Among her many civic activities, she is a fellow for the Andrew Goodman Foundation. Presently, Natarajan is studying at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, as a Killam Fellow. If awarded a Marshall Scholarship, she will attend the London School of Economics and Political Science and pursue a master’s degree in applied social data science. If awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, she will pursue a master’s degree in social science of the internet at Oxford.

• Barrett senior Joseph “Joe” Pitts has been nominated for both the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships. Hailing from Anthem, Arizona, he graduated from Boulder Creek High School and will receive bachelor’s degrees in management and civic and economic thought and leadership in May 2023. Pitts, who was a Truman Scholarship finalist in 2022, has served as a program director for the Arizona Chamber Foundation, developing opportunities for students to be civically engaged. He has volunteered for numerous political campaigns, including for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and the late Sen. John McCain. He is active in campus politics as well, serving in leadership for the Arizona Federation of College Republicans. If awarded a Marshall Scholarship, he will attend King’s College London and pursue a master’s degree in politics and contemporary history. If selected for the Rhodes Scholarship, he will study political theory at Oxford.

• Nathaniel Ross, from Mesa, Arizona, has been nominated for the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. He will graduate ASU with honors from Barrett in May 2023, with bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences, political science, applied quantitative science and history. A Udall Scholar and a Truman Scholarship finalist, Ross is a committed disability rights activist, having founded EosFighter Connection, a nationwide support network for youth with eosinophilic and other disorders. He is also politically active and interned with progressive lobbying firm Creosote Partners. Recently, he launched a bid for a seat on the Mesa City Council and became the youngest candidate to ever make the ballot. If awarded a Marshall Scholarship, he will study technology policy at Cambridge University, and if awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, he will study comparative social policy at Oxford.

• Barrett senior Emma Strouse has been nominated for the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. A Cave Creek, Arizona, native, she attended Cactus Shadows High School and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language at ASU. Strouse is currently completing her Chinese Language Flagship Program capstone year in Taiwan as a Boren Scholar. During her time at ASU, she has served as a mission team leader for the Next Generation Service Corps and interned with Project Humanities. If awarded a Marshall Scholarship, she will attend the School of Oriental and African Studies and pursue a master’s degree in Taiwan studies. If awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, she will study international relations at Oxford.

• Julie Kaplan, from Los Angeles, has been nominated for the Mitchell Scholarship. In May 2023, she will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in global politics and finance with honors from Barrett. She is a mission team leader for the Next Generation Service Corps and also has served in leadership for Arizona Microcredit Initiative, a nonprofit that provides microloans and consulting for underserved entrepreneurs. Kaplan is currently studying at the University of Prince Edward Island as a Killam Fellow. If awarded a Mitchell Scholarship, she will study international development practice at the University of Galway.

Story provided by the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement.

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