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Alumna Named Gates Scholar

Women's Colleges Promote Scientific Success in NY Times

Water Symposium Weekend Events

Take the Lead Program Seeks Nominations

Architecture of Silence Photo Exhibit Opens March 29

Romance Languages and Literatures Program Lecture

David Sedaris to Visit MHC

MHC Newsmakers

MHC Milestones

Notices

This Week at MHC

Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives
March 25, 2005

Alumna Maile Martinez Named Gates Cambridge Scholar

  Maile Martinez
  Maile Martinez ’03

Two years ago, Maile Martinez ’03 packed up her new diploma and the rest of her possessions and headed west to Phoenix, Arizona, to take a position as a seventh-grade language arts and social studies teacher through the Teach for America program.

This fall she’ll be on the move again, this time bound for the University of Cambridge as one of a handful of Gates Cambridge Scholars chosen from around the world. Much of the credit for her winning of the coveted scholarship, she said, goes to the Career Development Center, and to faculty who helped and supported her in her bid.

Martinez had been thinking about what she might do after the end of her two-year commitment to Teach for America when she learned about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, founded in 2000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of Seattle, Washington, to enable outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at Cambridge. Investigating further, Martinez, who had majored in Romance languages and literatures and minored in English at MHC, discovered a one-year master’s program in European literature and culture that “sounded like it was right up my alley,” she said.

To be eligible for a Gates Scholarship, a candidate must first be admitted to Cambridge through the usual process. “In selecting Gates Cambridge Scholars, the trust looks for students of exceptional academic achievement and scholarly promise for whom advanced study at Cambridge would be particularly appropriate,” the foundation explains on its Web site at http://trust.gatesscholar.org. “The trustees are required to award scholarships on the basis of a person's intellectual ability, leadership capacity, and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others.”

Martinez sought the assistance of Katya King, assistant director of fellowships and scholarships at the CDC, and, for her application to Cambridge, sought letters of recommendation from Christopher Rivers, professor of French, and Bill Quillian, Professor of English on the Emma B. Kennedy Foundation. King provided “a lot of hard-to-get information about the application process and what to expect,” Martinez said. “She has a lot of contacts and really helped me to prepare.” Rivers and Quillian, she said, were both “very supportive and very encouraging,” and Quillian shared some advice he had gained during his experience as an undergraduate at Cambridge.

Martinez learned in January that she would be one of 100 candidates interviewed for the available 35 scholarships, and in early March headed to Annapolis, Maryland, to meet with the panel that would decide on her application. “I was very nervous—everyone I met was very highly qualified and extremely motivated,” she said. But her preparation paid off, and her 20-minute interview was followed this month by the news that she has become MHC’s first Gates Scholar, and will be a member of St. John’s College.

As she prepares to say goodbye to her 60 students in Phoenix, Martinez is looking forward to an eventual career as a professor, “a huge leadership position from which I can effect social change.” She envisions using the power of her position and the knowledge she’s gained from her two years in a low-income school district to encourage her students to participate in community-outreach programs.

In the meantime, she hopes to stay connected with her seventh-grade classes through a Web log she plans to create. “I really love my students, and saying goodbye to them is the hardest thing,” Martinez said. She hopes that continuing to stay in touch during her time at Cambridge will encourage them to see themselves as the scholars they may yet become.

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