RICHARDSON, Texas (Nov. 22, 2006) — Sophie Rutenbar, a Richardson native and alumna of The University of Texas at Dallas, has won the very selective and prestigious Marshall Scholarship.
The award, presented to at least 40 Americans each year, is funded by the British government and allows American students to attend graduate school in the United Kingdom on full scholarship, including living and travel expenses. Rutenbar plans to pursue a master’s degree at either Oxford University or The Queens University of Belfast and The London School of Economics.
Not only is she UT Dallas’ first Marshall Scholar, but the university’s former McDermott Scholar also made history last year by being named its first Truman Scholar.
“She has gotten where she is today because of her determination – her ability to overcome her own doubts, dive right into a situation and do what needs to be done,” said Dr. Charlie Leonard, director of the McDermott Scholars Program. “She has demonstrated that over and over, whether in fixing problems in the UT Dallas student government or facing down a mob of angry voters in the rural Congo” while serving as an election observer for the Carter Center during the recent presidential elections.
Previous recipients of the half-century-old Marshall Scholar award include students from several Texas universities such as Baylor, Rice, Southern Methodist, The University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Christian.
Marshall Scholarships were founded by an act of the British Parliament in 1953 and commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan European Recovery Program, which was named for then-U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. The organization’s Web site says the scholarships “finance young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom.” Scholars are selected each year to study either at graduate or occasionally undergraduate level at a United Kingdom institution in any field of study. Each scholarship is awarded for two years.
“As future leaders, with a lasting understanding of British society, Marshall Scholars strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions,” the Web site states. “Marshall Scholars are talented, independent and wide-ranging, and their time as scholars enhances their intellectual and personal growth. Their direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programs contributes to their ultimate personal success.”
Rutenbar is a 2002 graduate of Richardson High School and the daughter of Todd and Winifred Rutenbar of Richardson. She entered UT Dallas that fall as part of The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program – an innovative and highly selective offering that provides a four-year scholarship, along with travel and internship opportunities, to students who demonstrate high intellectual achievement and strong leadership skills and ethics.
Rutenbar was involved in a host of activities on the UT Dallas campus, in the Dallas community and beyond. She was an active member of the university’s Collegium V Honors program and helped in the planning and development of Collegium V activities. She actively participated in UT Dallas student government and served as student body vice president in 2004. A bassoon player, Rutenbar played with the UT Dallas Chamber Music Ensemble. She also was an active member and co-founder of the UT Dallas Swim Club, as well as a volunteer at Herbert Marcus Elementary School in the Dallas Independent School District. She is fluent in French.
In 2004, Rutenbar was selected for the Bill Archer Fellowship Program, which enables a select group of outstanding students from University of Texas System schools to earn university credits while working in the nation’s capital. She interned that fall with the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
She received the Truman Scholarship in spring 2005 while studying at the Universite d’Orleans in Orleans, France. The highly competitive scholarship is a merit-based grant awarded to college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the non-profit sector, education or other public service fields. The award provides winners with financial support for graduate study.
In summer 2005, she interned with a development organization in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, evaluating the organization’s work with the legislature among other activities. In summer 2006 she was part of the Truman Scholar Summer Institute in Washington, D.C., working as an intern for The Fund for Peace. Among her efforts was research on Iraq based on the paradigm of Iraq as a failed state. Her research should be published this year as part of a report by the fund that tracks the progress in Iraq.
In fall 2007, she plans to pursue a two-year master’s degree in international relations at Oxford University or study for a one-year master’s degree in comparative ethnic conflict at The Queens University of Belfast and then a one-year master’s degree in development studies at The London School of Economics.
“I’m really excited about the chance to study and learn and live in the UK,” Rutenbar said. “There’s an incredible network of former Marshall Scholars doing their studies now, and I’m excited about being one of them and getting to interact with them. It’s going to be a fun experience, and I’m going to learn a lot.”
Upon completing her education, Rutenbar would like to set policy for the U.S. government relative to countries that are in conflict and those that are immediately post conflict.
“Sophie is an exceptional student not just because she is bright but because she is passionate about her goals,” said Dr. Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, associate provost for UT Dallas’ Office of Enrollment Services. “Sophie is a unique mix of intelligence, drive and compassion. She will change the world.”
About UT Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.