Maggie Witt, Souvanny Miller to interview as Marshall scholarship finalists

With aspirations of being a university president and shaping environmental law policy, two University of Oregon students are preparing for very important interviews that could help them achieve those dreams.

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, Maggie Witt and Souvanny Miller will interview for the prestigious Marshall scholarship at the British Consulate-General in San Francisco.

Each year, as many as 40 Marshall scholars are selected from the United States to study at the graduate level in the United Kingdom. Established by the British Parliament in 1953, Marshall scholars can pursue any field of study and the scholarship covers fees, cost-of-living expenses, books and research fees for two years.

Witt, an advocate for the humanities as an English and art history major, credits her standing in the Robert D. Clark Honors College for helping her find her voice and develop leadership and research skills.

“Close discussion groups couched within a Research I university, and an emphasis on research and discussion, is really what I wanted in a college,” said Witt, “and the University of Oregon did that better than anywhere else.”

If named a Marshall scholar, Witt plans to pursue two, one-year master’s degrees — art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and English at the University of Oxford. After completion of these programs, she plans to earn a Ph.D. and pursue a career in academia.

“I want to become a professor and my ultimate goal is [to be] university president, so this scholarship would mean everything,” said Witt. “Entering that world is incredibly difficult, so having a distinction like this means I can pursue the dreams that I want to achieve.”

A PathwayOregon student, Witt also served as a PathwayOregon mentor in the Clark Honors College last year. Since 2008, PathwayOregon has ensured that academically qualified Pell Grant eligible Oregonians will have their UO tuition and fees paid.

“It’s meant a lot to be supported by the PathwayOregon program,” said Witt. “The fact that there is this program that helps Oregonian students who can’t really afford it get to college means so much to me.”

Miller is an environmental studies major with a minor in geology. She participated in the UO’s College Scholars Program, an enrichment and mentoring honors-track program for high-achieving and motivated students.

If selected as a Marshall scholar, Miller plans to pursue a master’s degree in habitat restoration and conservation as part of the managing the environment program at Aberystwyth University in Aberystwyth, Wales.

“This program is part of my plan to someday create policy and maybe even do mitigation for communities around environmental policy and environmental action and conservation restoration,” said Miller.

Following completion of the program, Miller plans to attend law school and pursue a career creating environmental policy.

“Something I don’t think policy makers focus on enough is science,” said Miller. “So, for me to be an effective policy maker, I need to be able to do the science. With conservation and restoration, I need to be able to explain the science and show how the science and social sciences overlap.”

In 2012-13, Miller was an Earnest F. Hollings scholar and participated in a 10-week paid summer internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The University of Oregon has produced four Marshall scholars, including Josh Lupton in 2011 and Tamela Maciel in 2010.

Melissa Foley