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McDermott Scholar Adds Marshall Scholarship to List of Honors
Jan. 10, 2017
Political science senior and McDermott Scholar Nancy Fairbank has become the first student in more than 10 years at The University of Texas at Dallas to win the very selective and prestigious Marshall Scholarship.
The award, presented to 40 Americans this year, is funded by the British government and allows American students to attend graduate school in the United Kingdom for two years on full scholarship, including living and travel expenses. In recent years, the award has drawn nearly 1,000 applicants, who must be nominated by their universities.
UT Dallas alumnus Sophie Rutenbar, also a McDermott Scholar, won the award in 2006, and earned master’s degrees in conflict, security and development at King’s College in London, and in human rights at the London School of Economics. Rutenbar now works with the United Nations.
“This is really big,” said Dr. Douglas Dow, associate dean of the Honors College and clinical professor of political science. “The Marshall Scholarship has been around for over half a century. It is one of the most distinguished, competitive and globally impactful scholarships for which American seniors can apply.”
Dow said the scholarship was created “to identify intellectually distinguished and service-minded students that will act as ambassadors from the U.S. toward the U.K. throughout their professional lives.”
Fairbank was studying for finals when she received the call about winning the scholarship.
“It was very unbelievable. It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Fairbank said.
“Nancy’s ability to maintain and deepen contacts she has made throughout her academic and professional life is one of the reasons she was chosen. It’s an important skill for public service and a sign of leadership that Nancy has exemplified in her four years as a McDermott Scholar.”
Next fall, Fairbank plans to pursue a master’s degree in international development with a focus on poverty and inequality at Birmingham University. The following year, she will work toward a master’s degree in social intervention and policy evaluation from Oxford University, focusing on issues such as drug use and mental health problems among disadvantaged groups.
Fairbank said she hopes to add scientific rigor to what has been anecdotal work thus far on creating effective policy for homeless youths.
“While I have gathered the personal stories of homeless youth, I need to examine broader causes and impacts of homelessness,” Fairbank said in her application. “I need to be able to more specifically identify the sources of the problems I observe, establish evaluation criteria, and monitor policies after they have been implemented.”
Fairbank, who served as Student Government vice president in 2014-15, is author of the 2016 book, Throwaway Youth: Stories of Springfield’s Homeless Teens, published by Missouri State University’s Moon City Press.
While at UT Dallas, Fairbank gave a TEDxUTD talk about teen homelessness. During an internship with a nonprofit in Nicaragua, she created and led a public awareness campaign about the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In addition, she spent a semester working for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., through the Bill Archer Fellowship Program for Undergraduates. Most recently, Fairbank was a 2016 Truman Scholar finalist.
“Nancy’s ability to maintain and deepen contacts she has made throughout her academic and professional life is one of the reasons she was chosen,” Dow said. “It’s an important skill for public service and a sign of leadership that Nancy has exemplified in her four years as a McDermott Scholar.”
Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. Up to 40 scholars are selected each year to study at graduate level at an U.K. institution in any field of study. More information can be found on its website.
Fairbank spent the rest of December in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, working on research for her academic honors thesis. By the time she graduates in May, she will have visited nine countries to study youths and homelessness.
When she completes her graduate degrees in the U.K., Fairbank plans to go to law school. She was accepted in December to the law schools at Harvard and the University of Virginia. Her goal is to become an attorney who helps protect children and youths through law and policy.
“I will be in school a long time,” Fairbank said. “My time in the U.K. will allow me to network with a cohort of 39 other scholars in human rights fields. It will add a holistic and international perspective to what I’m doing.”
Fairbank appreciated the help offered by Dow and Dr. Edward Harpham, Honors College dean, as she completed the scholarship application process.
“I’m very grateful to them, and also to the wonderful professors and faculty and staff at UTD who have been so supportive,” Fairbank said. “I hope to represent the U.S. well.”
Media Contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].