Two Students Selected as Finalists for Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships | #students | #parents



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Alex Alvarez and Julianna Kantner

Two students from the U of A have recently been named finalists for two of the world’s top scholarships.

Eileen “Alex” Alvarez, a senior honors political science and international and global studies major in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a Rhodes Scholarship finalist. Julianna Kantner, a senior honors political science and international and global studies major, has been selected as a Marshall finalist.  

Finalists for both awards are selected from hundreds of applicants across the nation each year. The Marshall Scholarship provides one or two years of post-graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom. The Rhodes Scholarship provides for up to three years of study at Oxford University. Interviews for both awards are taking place this week.

“Alex Alvarez and Julianna Kantner are excellent representatives of the University of Arkansas,” said Charles Robinson, interim chancellor at the U of A. “Both are stellar students, dynamic leaders on the campus and in the community, and determined change-makers. They are focused on making a difference in the lives of marginalized communities. They are competing at the highest possible level as Rhodes and Marshall finalists. All of us at the University of Arkansas are very proud of their accomplishments and wish them well now and in the future as they work to make a difference in our state and beyond it.”

Eileen “Alex” Alvarez – Rhodes Finalist

Alvarez is a Silas Hunt Scholar from Rogers, and she served as a senior resident assistant on campus where she worked closely with the coordinator for residents’ education, assistant directors and graduate assistants to lead and support housing resident assistants. 

Alvarez also served as an intern for Search for Common Ground, with her efforts focusing on projects surrounding the Youth, Peace, and Security Act including policy briefs, research efforts and development. She also served as an intern for Generations for Peace.

Last fall, she organized volunteers in a voter registration effort called Fight Forward-Arkansas. On campus, she is a student member of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences DEI Council. She serves on the University Housing Diversity Task Force and is a member of the Honors College Advisory Council. As a member of ASG, she has served on the executive team overseeing the Freshman Leadership Forum.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship,” Alvarez said. “Throughout my time at the university, I have received extensive support from my professors and advisers. I would not be here today without all their support and the endless love and support of my family and friends! It is an honor to represent my school and community and to be considered for such an incredible scholarship. It is thrilling to know that this could be the next step forward in my education, which would allow me to help create desperately needed change, focused on human rights for minoritized communities around the world.”

Should she receive the Rhodes Scholarship, she plans to pursue an M.Sc. in global governance and diplomacy.  Her long-term goals are to work for a non-profit advocacy program like Search for Common Ground and eventually become a faculty member in political science or international affairs at a research university.

Julianna Kantner – Marshall Finalist

Originally from Shawnee, Kansas, Kantner is a Toller Honors College Fellow. She has served as president, vice president and secretary of Students with Refugees; vice president of Rotaract; and varsity team captain of Mock Trial. 

In the community, Kantner is active in refugee resettlement and youth mentorship programs. At Canopy NWA, she interned in both volunteer coordination and community development areas. She also co-sponsors a refugee family, helping them to acclimate to NWA. Kantner has also been involved in area youth-focused nonprofits, including as a youth mentor at Potter’s House and a learning loss prevention coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club. Kantner was named a finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship last spring in part due to her commitment to service.

“Interviewing for the Marshall Scholarship has been a wonderful opportunity to further my research and understand how I can support the local refugee community in Northwest Arkansas and connect that to an education in the UK,” Kantner said. “I am grateful for all the support and guidance I have received from my professors and my department, as well as the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at the U of A. I hope to use this opportunity to make a difference in refugee resettlement and the provision of essential services.”

If selected as a Marshall Scholar, Kantner plans to pursue two degrees — an M.Sc. in global migrations and social justice at Glasgow and an M.Sc. at the London School of Economics in international development and humanitarian emergencies. She ultimately plans to pursue a law degree and work in strategic litigation to support human rights for migrant communities, while also helping to strengthen the international institutions that support refugees.

Students or alumni interested in applying for prestigious scholarships should contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at awards@uark.edu.

About the Marshall Scholarship: Beginning with the first 12 Marshall Scholars in 1954, Marshall scholarships were created in order to finance young Americans of high ability to study for a graduate degree in the United Kingdom. Marshall Scholars strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. Marshall Scholars are talented and independent with wide-ranging interests. The award allows recipients one to three years of graduate level study at any university in the United Kingdom. The U of A’s first Marshall Scholar was John Edie, selected in 1960. The scholarships recognize the work of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall and are an expression of the U.K.’s gratitude for economic assistance received through the Marshall Plan after World War II. Marshall Scholarship winners are selected for their potential to excel as scholars, leaders and contributors to improved understanding between the U.S. and the U.K. The University of Arkansas has had eight Marshall Scholars, including Victoria Maloch (2017), Mike Norton (2014), Ben Hood (2002), Megan Ceronsky (2001), Warwick Sabin (1998), Charles King (1990), Lisa Pruitt (1989), and John Edie (1960).

About the Rhodes Scholarship: The Rhodes Scholarship, the oldest international fellowship, was initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902. The scholarship is intended to bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford. The first American Scholars were elected in 1904, and Neil Carothers of the University of Arkansas was a Rhodes Scholar that first year. Rhodes Scholars are elected for two years of study at the University of Oxford with the possibility of renewal for a third year. Eleven University of Arkansas students have been selected as Rhodes Scholars. The most recent was Coleman Warren (2022) who is currently studying at Oxford.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.



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