UI scholarship leads Matchett to UK

By Dixita Limbachia

Matchett, a senior, double majoring in global studies and geology, is one of 32 students to be selected as a 2016 Marshall ScholarJT. The scholarship will give her the opportunity to pursue a postgraduate study at the University of OxfordJT.

Originally from Grand Haven, Michigan, Matchett ended up at the University by accident. In her sophomore year of high school, Matchett won a Science Olympiad event and won tuition to the University as the grand prize.

Matchett initially applied to be a Schwarzman Scholar, a graduate program in China, but one of the advisors at the University’s National and International Scholarships Program encouraged her to apply to the Rhodes Scholarship based on the strengths of her application and the recommendations from professors.

After going through preliminary interviews, one of the committee members on the board thought Matchett was an exceptional candidate and decided to endorse her for the Marshall Scholarship as well. She ended up receiving the Marshall instead of the Rhodes Scholarship.

The Marshall Scholarship stemmed from World War II when the Marshall Plan was introduced to rebuild Europe. The cooperation fostered during this period of redevelopment led the creators of the plan to look for new ways to sustain relations between the U.S. and U.K., according to the program’s website. Because the British government funds the scholarship programs, it limits the number of students to 30 to 35 students each year.

Matchett is interested in nuclear policy and found that the U.S. and U.K. have a similar nuclear policy which encouraged her to study there.

“There’s a lot to be learned from retrospective analysis,” she said. “It’s hard sometimes in the U.S. to think critically about our own policies and (think) about how we can improve them from a multinational perspective.”

Tim WedigJT, associate director in LAS Global Studies and Matchett’s mentor, really wants students to grasp the idea of how an advisor aids students throughout their four years.

“As a faculty advisor, part of my role is to help students beyond this university, with what happens after the degree,” Wedig said. “I spend a lot of time in my classes relating content to career paths to academic options and try to build that throughout their entire academic career experience.”

He encouraged Matchett to apply for many different programs because of her variety of qualifications and “inspiring abilites”.

“Every way I interact with Leah is amazing,” he said. “She is highly motivated, so, as a mentor, motivating her is never a problem,” Wedig said. “She’s always prepared and has the desire to explore different opportunities.”

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