From the Office of Public Affairs | http://www.news.ku.edu
Editors: KU nominees are from Eudora, Lawrence, Olathe and Wichita.
Contact: Erin Wolfram, Academic Success, 785-864-2308, [email protected]
Three KU seniors, one alumna to compete for Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Churchill scholarships
LAWRENCE — Three current University of Kansas seniors and a recent graduate have been endorsed for prestigious fellowships for study in the United Kingdom and Ireland with the support of the University’s Office of Fellowships.
Current seniors Sivani Badrivenkata and Kat Balke have been endorsed for the George J. Mitchell Scholarship, which provides funding for one year of study in Ireland. Badrivenkata and Balke are joined by senior Joshua McGhee and recent graduate Lily Nguyen in being endorsed for the Marshall Scholarship, which provides funding for graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom. Balke, Badrivenkata and Nguyen were also endorsed for the Rhodes Scholarship, which provides expenses for one to three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Additionally, Badrivenkata and McGhee were endorsed for the Churchill Scholarship, which provides funding for one year of master’s study at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge in England.
Regional panels review applications for both the Rhodes and Marshall scholarship programs. The Mitchell scholarship has a first-round video interview before finalist interviews in November. Finalists for the Rhodes and Marshall are invited to participate in interviews in November. Only U.S. citizens can apply for the Marshall, Mitchell and Churchill scholarships, while the Rhodes Scholarship has 20 constituencies around the world, including the United States and Canada, and a new Global Rhodes Scholarship program.
The Office of Fellowships, a unit of Academic Success, coordinates KU’s endorsement process and supports candidates through the application process. Students interested in applying for these awards are encouraged to contact the office by email at [email protected]. Depending on other eligibility requirements, students may apply for these awards as graduating seniors or recent graduates. The next campus application deadline for these awards will be in May 2024.
KU students have previously won two Mitchell Scholarships, nine Marshall Scholarships and 27 Rhodes Scholarships.
Sivani Badrivenkata, from Lawrence, is the daughter of Dayakar Badri and Haarisa Valasa and a graduate of Free State High School. Badrivenkata is majoring in pharmacy and plans to pursue a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry to teach and conduct translational research in academia with a focus on integrating biologics in formulations to address global health needs. She currently conducts research in the lab of Michael Hageman, Valentino J. Stella Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, to assess the viability/efficacy of lactoferrin to treat vaginal E. coli infections in pregnant patients to prevent neonatal sepsis. Badrivenkata is a recipient of a spring 2023 Undergraduate Research Award, presented at the 2022 Kansas Pharmacists Association’s annual meeting and tradeshow, and participated in the 2022 summer Undergraduate Research Program within the KU pharmaceutical chemistry department. She is also the president of ResearchRx, a KU School of Pharmacy student organization that promotes scientific literacy, research involvement and careers in pharmaceutical research. Badrivenkata currently works at Sigler Pharmacy and previously served as a speech and debate assistant coach at Free State High School. In summer 2021, she was a research intern for a prostate cancer clinical research project through KU Medical Center. Additionally, she is a KU Global Scholar and a member of the University Honors Program, for which she serves as a program ambassador and previously served as an honors seminar assistant. Badrivenkata has written poems that have been published in Kiosk Magazine, hosted an art exhibition at the Kansas Union Gallery in fall 2021 and had five paintings displayed in KU campus libraries through the 2022-2023 academic year. In 2023, she was also a KU nominee for both the Goldwater and Truman scholarships.
Kat Balke, from Eudora, is the daughter of Dr. Jennifer and Bruce Balke and a graduate of Blue Valley High School. Balke is double majoring in English and Italian and aspires to earn a doctorate in English with a concentration in British medieval literature, become an English professor and run a campus women’s center to support, advocate for and provide a safe space for abuse survivors. Balke transferred to KU from DePauw University. In her role as the vice president of equity and justice within student government, she successfully drafted legislation naming the new first-year residence hall Vernon E. Jordan Jr. Hall after DePauw’s first African American graduate. At KU, in collaboration with Jonathan Lamb, associate professor of English, Balke researched ecofeminism in William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and presented the research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. She also earned an Undergraduate Research Award for fall 2023. Additional research areas for her English and Italian theses include medieval feminisms and the #MeToo movement and the women of Boccaccio’s “The Decameron.” Balke has participated in four study abroad programs: British Summer Institute, Costa Rica Travel Writing, London Review and Florence Language Institute. She also serves as a peer consultant and workshop facilitator for the KU Writing Center and is a student representative on the KU Core Curriculum Committee. Balke is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Helen Rhoda Hoopes Award for best English undergraduate essay written by a woman. She currently serves as the president of KU’s Italian Club.
Joshua McGhee, from Olathe, is the son of Mark McGhee and Dorice McGhee and a graduate of Olathe Northwest High School. He is a biochemistry major and Spanish minor and plans to attend medical school and become a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Before entering KU, Joshua earned his associate degree at Johnson County Community College on a Presidential Scholarship. He is a member of Maximizing Access to Research Careers, Delta Epsilon Mu, Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, KU Glee and the Unity Dance Team. He is also involved in research in the KU Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and in summer 2023 in Dr. Navneet Dhillon’s lab at the KU Medical Center, he researched the effects of HIV in tissues affected by pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling. Previously McGhee conducted research on hyperactivity in early Alzheimer’s disease across brain regions and served as a patient care technician at Olathe Medical Center. Since May, McGhee has volunteered at the JayDoc Free Clinic in Kansas City, and he is a longtime volunteer and music director at his local church.
Lily Nguyen, from Wichita, is the daughter of Dai and Mai Nguyen and a graduate of Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School. She graduated from KU in 2022, receiving bachelor’s degrees in global & international studies and East Asian languages & cultures and a minor in political science. She currently works as an English teacher in rural Japan through the Japanese Exchange Teaching Program, promoting grassroots diplomacy through cultural exchange events. Recently she was elected as vice chair of the National Association for Japan Exchange Teaching and was nominated to serve as the Amakusa Region, Kumamoto Prefecture area leader. Outside of the classroom, she translates local news stories from Japanese into English and volunteers as an English language television newscaster. While at KU, she interned with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and collaborated with researchers and writers to complete the 2020 Congressional Outreach Report. Nguyen received the ExCEL Award — Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership — for her university service and engagement with a diverse set of communities, including serving as a University Honors Program assistant, leadership roles at St. Lawrence and her volunteer work with international students. Her research on nationalism and patriotism within Chinese hip-hop has been published in the Aisthesis Honors Journal and received the KU A.C.E. Talk Award.
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