Seniors win Rhodes scholarship and other fellowships

Four seniors have been awarded fellowships that support study at Oxford or Cambridge University. Jason Stanley is one of 11 Rhodes Scholars from Canada, and Jason Langheier, Catherine Nicholson and Max Weinstein have been awarded Herschel Smith Fellowships by Williams. The Rhodes Scholarship supports two to three years of study at Oxford while the Smith fellowship funds two years at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Rhodes Scholarship

Stanley is the 32nd Williams student to receive a Rhodes Scholarship. The qualifications, as described by the Deans Office, include academic excellence and “uncommon energy that applies to both curricular and extra-curricular activities.” The last Williams student to receive the award was Jon Ackerly ’97.

Stanley plans to pursue an M.A. in development studies at Queen Elizabeth College, Oxford. At Williams, Stanley is an Asian Studies major. “Asian Studies is something that fascinates me, but development is what I want to do for a career,” Stanley said.

Stanley noted that his Williams experience helped him in the application process. “Williams has allowed me to develop all sides of myself as a person,” Stanley said. “Between being involved in classes, athletics, Literary Society, Gargoyle Society and Senior Advisors, I have found Williams to be a complete community. My teachers, coaches and the Deans’ Office all deserve thanks because opportunities like this don’t come without help.”

Stanley, who has studied and traveled in Asia and Africa, has never been to Europe. “I’m excited to participate in the intellectual environment at Oxford and to travel,” he said. “I told my parents that I’m going to buy a motorcycle and see Europe.”

Herschel Smith Fellowships

The criteria for the Smith Fellowship include “general intellectual ability and the promise of original and creative work.” While one of the three annual awards is designated for the study of science and another for the humanities, the third can be used for either.

Jason Langheier, a biology major and neuroscience concentrator at Williams, will pursue a Neuroscience Ph.D. at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Langheier studied at Cambridge his junior year and explained, “while the undergraduate system at Cambridge is archaic – stressing memorization over real world science – postgraduate studies there involve a lot of research.” Williams prepared him well for the experience, Langheier said, because “the Williams name helped me to get internships at the National Institute of Health and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center.”

Catherine Nicholson, an English and religion double major, expects to continue her study of English literature at Emmanuel College. Nicholson noted she feels ready for the experience “despite the different approach to literature at British universities because the English department here has helped me develop my writing so well.”

With respects to the process of applying to fellowships, Nicholson said, “it’s hell but ultimately worthwhile. The Dean’s office is very helpful and [Deans’ Office secretary Lynn] Chick is an angel.”

Max Weinstein, a classics and philosophy double major, plans to pursue a M.Phil in Classics, concentrating in Ancient Philosophy. Weinstein intends to complete the final year of the classics degree at Cambridge “because undergraduates in England have generally specialized to a greater degree than their American counterparts.”

“At British universities, independent initiative is rewarded and those who lack it tend to suffer,” Weinstein said. “At Williams, in contrast, there is always someone looking over your shoulder, making sure that you’re doing the right thing. I’ve benefited greatly from the personal attention at Williams and look forward to experiencing a different system.”

“I’m very excited for the opportunity,” Weinstein said. “The faculty is one of the best in ancient philosophy you can get.”

Students considering applying for fellowships to Oxbridge are advised to consult a folder in the Deans’ Office where letters to the Deans from past Smith Scholars are kept. This file contains advice on everything from socializing to the (lack of) quality of British food to the availability of free linen and laundry service.