Top Scholars Talk with Jacob Calvert on being a Marshall Scholar

What was the application process like for the Marshall Scholarship?

I remember feeling elevated by the investment of the campus community; the dozens of hours the two of you spent fielding my thoughts and encouraging my effort, the faculty that critically reviewed my writings and rallied for mock interviews, the advisors that carefully distilled four-year relationships into 1,000 words or fewer. I also remember the struggle against feelings of inadequacy and the imposter syndrome, and weathering the sometimes-cutting-but-always-helpful feedback. After a particularly poor response to a question about UK policy, one campus panelist remarked that my response sounded like it was sampled from The Economist’s table of contents from that week. Bingo. In another mock interview, a panelist baited me into a no-win discussion about public education as precious time ran out. Lesson learned. What about being overruled by a subject-matter expert? I fell for that, too. Were these accidental, teachable moments? No. These failures were engineered by the panelists with my ultimate success in mind. During the final practice interview, just a few days before the real one, I felt more at ease. I had made so many mistakes that there were few left to make. The faculty lining the perimeter of the table seemed at ease, too. Afterwards, the panelists offered smiles and kind words, final pieces of advice and even a book recommendation. I felt like I had just graduated from some extraordinary academy and, in a way, I had. Through the scholarship process, I strengthened critical communication skills, articulated my goals, and found fulfillment in unifying my experiences with a narrative. The campus scholarship process was a formative experience unlike any other I had at Illinois.


What is your approach to standing out amid stiff competition?

Identify your X factors. Most scholarship applicants will have a strong academic record. Most will have a history of extracurricular involvement that dates back to their election as student body president while still in the zygote stage of development. Some will even know how to fold a fitted sheet. But you have something that they don’t! You saw/visited/heard/made/found/learned/thought/discovered/experienced that one thing that one time, which inspired the thing you do now! Try to be creative about the structure and content of your personal statement — how can you connect your myriad interests and experiences into a coherent and compelling narrative? The people reviewing your application won’t remember you because your GPA was above a 3.5. They’ll remember you because of the way your culinary interests inform your research in cosmology. Or they’ll remember you because your inspiration to pursue international criminal justice came from fishing trips with your grandfather. This is the narrative that you’ll complement with your other essays and further develop during your interview. If you don’t think you have anything interesting to say, go talk to someone at the NISP office — they’re particularly good at inspiring these sorts of narratives.


What has your Marshall Scholar experience been like so far? 

I expected that the scholarship would be most valuable for the course of study that I would pursue. Without a doubt, the most valuable aspect of the scholarship is the intellectual enrichment from the community of scholars. My fellow scholars are some of the most thoughtful, engaged, talented, interesting, and inspiring people I have ever met. Through our discussions, I've learned about social mobility, binary star formation, maritime archaeology, international relations, robotics, educational policy, and much, much more. Living, learning, and traveling with Renaissance transplants such as these is the true value of the scholarship.


What advice would you give to students applying to the Marshall Scholarship?

The most valuable resources you have are time, the NISP office, and your advisors. Start writing as early as possible and submit an application for the priority deadline. Every opportunity for feedback that you spurn is a loss! For reference, I started drafting a personal statement 2 weeks before the first priority deadline. Write as many high-quality drafts as possible, send them to the NISP office, and schedule a meeting for feedback. Meet with your research advisors. Ask them to review your applications and write strong recommendations. You can ask letter writers to cover complementary aspects of your experiences. For example, if you participated in an outreach program with one professor and conducted research with another, don’t ask both of them to highlight your otherworldly Skee-Ball skills. Instead, suggest that one focus on outreach and the other on research. The NISP office can provide feedback quickly, while research advisors likely can’t/won’t. For reference, my research advisors revised 1 draft for every 3 that the NISP office did. Convey letter submission deadlines clearly or prepare to stakeout a professor’s office (I did this, twice).


What tips do you have for those awarded a scholarship?

If you’ll be living and studying abroad, try to save up money beforehand. There are few times in life when you have the freedom and means — both physical and financial — to explore the world. 

Avoid exclusively spending time with other scholars from the US. At institutions that are hubs for international scholars, there are large communities of US students, and it is convenient to only spend time with them. While you should certainly cultivate these friendships, you’ll be missing out if you don’t make the effort to integrate into the culture of your host country.

Contact those currently on the scholarship and ask for advice. They’ll likely be happy to share some scholarship-specific wisdom. In fact, your scholarship community (like mine) may maintain a compendium of tips for scholars-elect like you!


  • oco said

    F*ckin' amazing things here. I'm very satisfied to look your article. Thanks a lot and i'm looking forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  • rdmzxzlevz said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">ardmzxzlevz</a>

  • fıtfkpqy said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">afıtfkpqy</a>

  • bxwmnxif said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">abxwmnxif</a>

  • robot patissier said

    En effet, il ne sert à rien d'investir dans un robotic
    patissier si son fonctionnement n'est pas fiable, sa durée de vie non importante,
    et le service clientèle incapable de répondre correctement à nos besoins.

  • wbshygcgb said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">awbshygcgb</a>

  • zkpdtkiwqo said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">azkpdtkiwqo</a>

  • svtnxvksd said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">asvtnxvksd</a>

  • said

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However
    I am encountering troubles with your RSS.
    I don't know the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else
    having similar RSS issues? Anyone who knows the
    solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  • said

    I've been surfing on-line greater than 3 hours nowadays,
    but I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It's lovely value sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters
    and bloggers made just right content as you did, the web shall be much more helpful than ever before.

  • said

    you are truly a good webmaster. The site loading pace is
    incredible. It sort of feels that you're doing any distinctive trick.
    Furthermore, The contents are masterwork. you have done a
    excellent process on this subject!

  • Hilario said

    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads
    up. The text in your content seem to be running off
    the screen in Firefox. I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue
    or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought
    I'd post to let you know. The style and design look great though!

    Hope you get the issue solved soon. Kudos

  • ReVouchers said

    Hey there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted
    to give a quick shout out and tell you I reqlly enjoy reading through your articles.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same
    subjects? Thanks for your time!

  • Rebecca said

    STI gives a variety of web marketing solutions that includes search engine optimization, website design, google adwords project, graphic designing
    solutions and also a large variety of search engine optimization solutions.

  • said

    Hello There. I found your weblog using msn. That is a really smartly written article.
    I'll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read extra of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  • Cathy said

    Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your article seem to be running ooff the screen in Opera.
    I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or somethimg to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I'd post to let
    you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Thanks

  • creative gifts for boyfriends said

    Got an excellent image of certainly one of your mates making a
    poker face?” Why not create a complete poker card deck with it - is
    just one of the sites the place you'll be able to customise
    a deck using one in every of your personal photos.

  • Hamish said

    Hi there! This blog post could not be written any better!
    Readding through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward thi article to him.
    Fairly certain he'll have a very good read. Many thanks for

  • Re-Vouchers said

    I've read a few excellent stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how a lot attempt you put to make oone of these
    fantastic informative site.

  • ReVouchers said

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as
    though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking
    about, why throw away your intelligence on just osting videos to your site when you
    could be giving us something informative to read?

  • Jasa backlink said

    I do not know whether it's just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering issues with your blog.
    It looks like some of the written text in your posts are running off the screen.
    Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening
    to them as well? This could be a problem with my internet browser because I've had this happen before.


  • xffcztffef said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">axffcztffef</a>

  • mhwiylprxp said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">amhwiylprxp</a>

  • ynbvdmkf said

    Top Scholars
    <a href="">aynbvdmkf</a>

  • Kellee said

    Ultimately, carrying out everyday adaptability workouts can aid you
    maintain the motion in your neck; yoga and also day-to-day stretching before bed
    can aid relieve stress and protect against rigidity.

  • Ezra said

    Because of their tiny dimension and also straightforward requirements, along with the incentive of fresh eggs, elevating hens is a rapidly growing city activity.

Add a Comment