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Oct. 28, 2008
Contact: Sue Lorenz, University Honors Program, (785) 864-3374.

KU to honor students competing for Rhodes, Marshall, Churchill scholarships

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas will honor seniors who are competing for one of three prestigious scholarships that provide tuition and living expenses for graduate study in Great Britain or Ireland: the Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill scholarships.

The nominees will be honored from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at a reception in Nunemaker Center.

Seven seniors are competing in the Rhodes and Marshall scholarship competitions:

— Robert Joel Gordy, Topeka
— Stephanie Ann Hill, Shawnee
— Andrew David Hodgson, Manhattan
— Amanda “Mandy” M. Shriwise, Overland Park
— Meredith Joy Van Natta, Torrance, Calif.
— Katherine Eileen Wetzel, Manhattan
— Grant Denton Wille, Lawrence

In addition, Hill is competing for a Winston Churchill scholarship. Thornton Thompson, Lenexa senior, is competing solely for a Churchill scholarship.

Thirty-two Rhodes scholarships are awarded annually among 16 U.S. districts; 40 Marshalls are awarded from eight U.S. regions; and 13 Churchill scholarships are awarded from throughout the United States.

KU students have won 25 Rhodes scholarships since 1904, more than all other Kansas colleges and universities combined; nine Marshall scholarships since 1965; and one Churchill scholarship since 1999. KU is the only research university in Kansas eligible to nominate for Churchill scholarships.

Rhodes scholarships were first offered in 1903; Marshalls, in 1953; and Churchill scholarships, in 1963. Rhodes scholarships may be used only at Oxford University; Marshall scholarships at any British university; and Churchill scholarships may be used at Churchill College at Cambridge University.

The 2009 Marshall scholarship winners will be selected following regional interviews for finalists Nov. 6 and 7. If selected as finalists, KU nominees will travel to Chicago along with other competitors from Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Winners are asked to accept or decline the offer within 12 days.

Rhodes competitions take place Nov. 21 and 22. If invited, KU nominees will interview in Kansas City, Mo., alongside competitors from a district that includes Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Mississippi. Two winners are selected from each district immediately following the Nov. 22 interviews by the Rhodes Foundation. Separate state interviews are no longer conducted.

The Churchill Foundation selects and announces the winners at the end of February. Churchill scholar nominees are selected based on their application materials without interviews. Churchill scholarships to support a year of graduate study in engineering, mathematics and science.

Brief biographical information about each KU nominee follows:

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence 66047

Grant Denton Wille

Grant Denton Wille, senior in political science and Spanish, plans to study law to prepare for a public service career focused on immigrant advocacy and working with Latino populations. As a student whose interests include boxing and fly fishing, Wille seeks challenges that not only test physical endurance but broaden his perspectives in working for change. This summer Wille plans to raise funds for immigrant support in Spain by racing in the Mongol Rally 2009 across Europe and Asia. In summer 2008 Wille walked a 450-mile trail across northern Spain, following a medieval Catholic pilgrimage trail. After he had returned to KU, Wille observed that the walk made him aware of the need to establish ties with other human beings in order to change the world. He has volunteered as a teacher of English to native Spanish speakers in Spain. In Lawrence, he tutors residents learning English as a second language through the Project Bridge volunteer program at KU. In addition, Wille has tutored in college preparatory programs in Lawrence’s middle schools. He regularly volunteers with American Red Cross blood drives. He is a member of two national honor societies, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi, as well as the national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha. For the past three years, he has practiced with the Haskell Indian Nations University Boxing Club. His college jobs have included working as a stocker in a local grocery and as a construction team foreman. He is the son of Oz and Marianne Wille and is a Lawrence High School graduate.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Lenexa 66219

Thornton W. Thompson

Thornton W. Thompson, senior in biochemistry and biology, was the first recipient of KU’s Perfect Achievement Scholarship, offered to Kansas high school seniors who achieve perfect scores on college entrance exams. He plans to study medicine and earn to earn a doctorate in cell biology in preparation for a career in biomedical research, particularly of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In 2008, he was a KU nominee for a Goldwater scholarship. In 2007, he was selected for a summer research internship in the pathology lab of Mark Greene, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Thompson’s contribution’s to Greene’s work has resulted in his being included among the authors of a journal article by Greene. At KU, Thompson’s work as an undergraduate research assistant in the lab of David Davido, assistant professor of molecular biosciences, has been included in a manuscript that will be submitted for publication. He is a National Merit Scholar and was selected for University Scholars, KU’s mentoring program offered to 20 top sophomores annually. He is the son of Victoria Thompson and a graduate of Shawnee Mission West High School.

From Overland Park 66212

Amanda "Mandy" Shriwise

Amanda “Mandy” Shriwise, senior in dance, is preparing for a career in health care policy and international development. As a KU student, Shriwise co-founded the International Children’s Assistance Network to raise $5,000 for an orphanage in Haiti and $12,000 for a preschool in Tanzania, where she spent two summers volunteering in clinics and community development projects. During winter break in January, Shriwise plans to return to the Tanzania preschool that has expanded from 10 to 30 students. She also co-founded the Wellness and Education for a Better Society at KU. Shriwise co-directs KU’s Center for Community Outreach, a clearing house for 15 campus organizations that match student volunteers to community service. At KU she has been a social services volunteer with Jaydoc, a free clinic, and has been a teaching assistant for organic and general chemistry courses. She was a 2007 KU nominee for the national Truman competition. She has received two undergraduate research awards in chemistry and won the top dance award for undergraduates. She is president of the University Dance Company. Shriwise is a Watkins-Berger Scholar, a four-year KU scholarship offered to Kansas women graduating at the top of their high school class. Her memberships include two national honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. As chair of the School of Fine Arts student advisory board, Shriwise helped develop a scholarship/career development program for fine arts students. She is the daughter of Rodney and Susan Shriwise and is a graduate of Shawnee Mission South High School.

From Shawnee 66217

Stephanie Ann Hill

Stephanie Ann Hill, senior in biochemistry and chemistry, is a 2007 Goldwater scholar who is preparing for a career in cancer research. She has worked for three years in the lab of Brian S. Blagg, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, whose research includes the development of anticancer agents. Hill’s contributions to recent initial findings by Blagg’s team earned her the distinction as second author of an article submitted to the Journal of Organic Chemistry. Hill will also be a second author of a manuscript on results of another research project soon to be submitted for publication. Blagg says that for an undergraduate to earn two publications in three years is extraordinary. She is a National Merit Scholar, a Chancellors Club Scholar and a Kansas Governor’s Scholar. She has received two Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence scholarships and presented posters at the Kansas IDeA seminar and at the KU Research Experience for Undergraduates. She is a member of the ChemScholar mentorship program that provides community outreach particularly to interest children in science. An accomplished violinist, Hill is in the KU Symphony Orchestra and was a concertmaster with the Kansas City Youth Symphony. She is the daughter of Douglas and Mary Hill and a graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest High School.

RILEY COUNTY
From Manhattan 66503

Andrew D. Hodgson

Andrew D. Hodgson, senior in political science, is planning a career in public service and international policy development. He would like to focus on environmental concerns or on emerging global powers such as China. In his junior year, Hodgson received an undergraduate research award to study proposals to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program. His research adviser, John Kennedy, assistant professor of political science, encouraged Hodgson to expand the study into an honors thesis, “A Study of the Impact of Resource Flow from China to North Korea on the Six Party Nuclear Negotiations.” This past spring, Hodgson made his first trip abroad and took his first classes in Mandarin Chinese when he enrolled in a language immersion program at the Beijing Institute of Education. The program was sponsored by CET Academic Programs, a Washington, D.C.-based study abroad program. Hodgson is now a CET ambassador at KU. Kennedy has been his mentor since Hodgson’s sophomore year when he was one of 20 students selected for KU’s University Scholars mentoring program. His interest in international policy led Hodgson to establish an Oxfam chapter at KU. Through Oxfam, he has coordinated campaigns to provide more fair trade food and beverage options on campus. He is vice president for the Amnesty International and for Oxfam chapters at KU. Hodgson co-founded the Journal of Undergraduate Research and as editor-in-chief published the inaugural issue this year. His scholarships include a Summerfield, one of KU’s most prestigious scholarships for the top graduates of Kansas high schools. He is a study group coordinator for the Dole Institute of Politics and a research assistant in KU’s Department of Political Science. He has also worked as a resident hall assistant and as a research assistant in the Stable Isotopes Lab in geography. He is the son of David S. Hodgson and is a Manhattan High School graduate.

Katherine Eileen Wetzel

Katherine Eileen Wetzel, senior in English, plans a career in teaching and research of writers and artists. Wetzel is particularly interested in studying “those on the fringes of society and exploring their method of expression through alternative publication.” With an undergraduate research grant, Wetzel traveled to England in summer 2008 to research the personal journal of an obscure 19th century woman in the Bodleian Library Special Collections at Oxford University in England. With the additional help of a study aboard scholarship from Indianapolis’ Butler University in program at St. Peter’s College at Oxford, Wetzel gained permission needed for an undergraduate to work with the Bodleian Library’s rare materials. Her research project is being expanded to her honors thesis, which one of her advisers says will be among the strongest undergraduate work in the department. As a freshman at another university, Wetzel had considered majoring in visual arts. She maintains her interest in the arts by serving as secretary and treasurer of the Spencer Museum of Art Student Advisory Board and volunteering with children’s art appreciate classes. She conducts gallery tours as a student docent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. As a volunteer with KU’s Alternative Breaks program, Wetzel has served with a local neighborhood co-op, a local nursing home and a community living group home. She has also served as a student leader with Ichthus Student Ministry and as a youth counselor with Wyldlife ministries. She is the daughter of Mark and Ritz Wetzel and is a Manhattan High School graduate.

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka 66610

Robert Joel Gordy

Robert Joel Gordy, senior majoring in history and Italian, plans to earn a law degree and pursue a career in public service. His goals include shaping policies to promote sexual equality and gender rights. Gordy came to KU as a National Merit scholar planning to prepare to study medicine. He has since focused on the humanities and is pursuing research projects that connect the economics of gender and the history of visual and material cultures. This past summer, Gordy completed an internship in the clocks and watches section of the New York offices of Sotheby’s, an international auction house. In his application essay, Gordy notes, “the mechanized measurement of time has always been connected with men and commerce and the wristwatch continues to be a symbol of masculinity and of success.” In spring 2008 he received an undergraduate research award for a study of “Conspicuous Consumption and the Masculine Ideal in Regency England” that included research at the University of Leicester in England. He is a University Scholar, KU’s mentoring program for 20 students selected in their sophomore year. Gordy is a peer educator in the Learning Communities, KU’s program to help first-year students transition to college life and assist upper-level students in exploring majors and professions. He has served as an Italian language tutor for KU’s Academic Achievement and Access Center. His volunteer work includes serving as a reader for Audio-Reader, a service for the blind and visually impaired. He is a member of three national honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for historians. He has performed in University Theatre productions and sings in university vocal groups and his church. He is the son of Brent and Jan Kennedy Gordy and is a graduate of Millard South High School in Omaha, Neb.

CALIFORNIA
From Torrance 90505

Meredith Joy Van Natta

Meredith Joy Van Natta, senior majoring in Latin American studies and history, is preparing for a career in public service and international development. She is conducting research for an honors thesis on the role of women in sustainable development initiatives in Latin America. For the past two years, Van Natta has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Los Angeles. With KU’s Alternative Breaks program she has volunteered with community organizations in El Salvador and helped clear community irrigation systems in Abiquiu, N.M. Faculty nominating her note that Van Natta has a remarkable commitment to cross-cultural and international understanding and an ability to challenge herself and inspire others. She is a National Merit scholar and a Chancellors Club scholar at KU. In her sophomore year, she was selected as a University Scholar, KU’s mentoring program offered to 20 top sophomores annually. She has been president of Ovarian Cancer Awareness at KU and supported the American Cancer Society by running in Relay for Life for three years. Van Natta was named the most promising student by the KU history department in 2008. Her memberships include two national honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. She is the daughter of Timothy and Joan Van Natta and is a graduate of City High School in Iowa City, Iowa.

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