Seniors awarded Luce, Gates prizes

Two seniors, Evelyn Denham ’12 and Erin McGonagle ’12, were recently awarded national fellowships. Denham received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship for study at Cambridge University and McGonagle was selected to participate in the Luce Scholars Program, a fellowship funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.


Evelyn Denham ’12


Denham plans to obtain an M.Phil. in European literature and culture at Cambridge with a focus on early modern German. Afterwards, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in history. Denham is the sixth student from the College to receive a Gates Cambridge scholarship.

Denham is currently a history and German double major. She is in the process of writing an honor’s thesis in history titled “Between Sublime Porte and Hofburg: Ceremonial Negotiations at the Habsburg Court, 1748-1755,” in which she examines the mid-18th century negotiations between the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. Her argument investigates the intertwined relationship between court ceremony and diplomacy in this era.

Denham is also a co-leader of the Stanley Kaplan Program in American Foreign Policy and has been working at the Chapin Library of Rare Books since her sophomore year. Along the same political- and library-oriented track, during her junior year abroad at the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford, Denham was a member of the Oxford Union Debating Societyand the Oxford University Walking Club and also worked in the Williams-Exeter Programme Library.

Denham said she applied for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship because “I loved the experience [at Oxford] and I knew that I wanted to return to the U.K. for a graduate degree.”

In addition to receiving this scholarship, Denham also received the Herschel Smith Fellowship and was a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, both of which she will be turning down in order to take the Gates Cambridge scholarship.


Erin McGonagle ’12

McGonagle won the Luce fellowship, an award intended for college seniors and recent graduates interested in Asian studies. Contenders for the fellowships do not have any type of background in Asian studies or related fields. Those selected receive funding, language training and professional placement. McGonagle was one of 18 recipients selected nation-wide. The last student from the College to be selected was Jamin Morrison ’02.

“I have known for several years that I wanted to go abroad for at least a year after graduation, whether to work, teach or become involved in some sort of community service work. The Luce Scholarship will provide me with an opportunity to immerse myself in a foreign culture and community that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience,” McGonagle said.

Next year, McGonagle will focus on pediatric medicine in a to-be-determined location in Asia. In collaboration with the Asia Foundations, the Luce Foundation places the winners in one of 15 countries or regions in Asia. McGonagle is particularly looking forward to her experience. “I hope that the cultural and professional experience that I gain through the Luce Scholarship will allow me to better relate to a diverse group of people and eventually, as a physician, to patients from all cultures and backgrounds,” she said.

McGonagle is working towards a double major in chemistry and studio art at the College. “What initially sparked my interest in working in Asia was actually art, not medicine,” she said. “As an art major, I have had some exposure to Asian art and I am particularly interested in the many ways in which art pervades Asian culture, whether in traditional medical practice, religion or the representation of policy, government and the royal court.”

At the College, McGonagle is a member of the varsity women’s soccer team, has served as a teaching assistant and a faculty-nominated tutor and has been in charge of WISHES, a student-led organization that educates local children about nutrition and exercise.

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