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Students win Rhodes, Marshall Scholarships

Jason Wasfy
Jason Wasfy
Emma Brunskill
Emma Brunskill

Senior Jason H. Wasfy of Great Falls, VA, was among 40 US students awarded Marshall Scholarships to study next year in the United Kingdom. Graduate student Emma P. Brunskill of Edmonds, WA, won a Rhodes Scholarship.

Marshall scholars must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and a capacity to make a significant contribution to society. The scholarships, given every year since 1953, are awarded by the United Kingdom as a national gesture of thanks to the United States for aid received under the post-World War II Marshall Plan. Winners may attend one of several British universities.

Rhodes Scholars study at Oxford University in England. Winners are chosen on the basis of intellectual and academic ability, integrity, respect for others, and the ability to lead and to use their talents fully. The scholarships were established in 1902 by the estate of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and colonialist.

Mr. Wasfy, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, plans to attend medical school after studying politics and social sciences at Oxford. He believes his studies at Oxford combined with his engineering background will prepare him to use technology to improve health care delivery and policy. He is a graduate of the Maret School in Washington, DC.

Ms. Brunskill, who received the BS in computer engineering and physics magna cum laude from the University of Washington last June, is a PhD student at the Laboratory for Computer Science. She plans to study experimental psychology with a focus on neuroscience at Oxford.

"I believe that our health challenges in the upcoming years will not only deal with developing new procedures and drugs, but also with securing funds for the war against cancer and keeping tobacco away from America's children," said Mr. Wasfy, who was a legislative intern for US Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana) last summer. "I want to join the fight to help tackle many of these important health challenges."

Mr. Wasfy, whose father emigrated from Egypt in 1968, continued, "I owe a debt to our nation that I can never fully repay. Only in America can the work and values of a dedicated family like mine allow a kid from Virginia like me to grow up and win this sort of honor. I hope that the skills I take away from this experience will help me better serve our great nation that has bestowed on me and my family so many extraordinary blessings."

He has written numerous articles for MIT publications on topics as diverse as campus politics, tobacco and health care, and science and technology, and was the editor of Counterpoint during his sophomore year. He has won the S. Klein Prize in science writing and the I. Austin Kelly III Award for scholarship in politics.

Mr. Wasfy, who has traveled extensively, worked in Cairo in 1999 as an intern at the Association for Health and Environmental Development. He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society and won a John E. Burchard scholarship in the humanities and social sciences last year.

Last year, Ms. Brunskill helped develop hardware for a digital American Sign Language interpreter. In the process, she said, "I finally understood the power of computer engineering -- using my knowledge of this technology, I could make concrete positive differences to people while doing interesting analytical research."

Ms. Brunskill was an intern at the European Center for Particle Research in Geneva in 1999 and studied French at the Sorbonne last summer. As an undergraduate, she won several awards for research and scholarship. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she is attending MIT as a Presidential Scholar. She is a member of Amnesty International and has rowed with the MIT Graduate Crew. She was one of 32 Rhodes Scholars named this year.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 13, 2000.

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