University of Arkansas students Jacob Condran, Megan Rodgers, and alumna Maya Ungar have been selected as finalists for the Marshall Scholarship, a record number. Rodgers has also been selected as a Rhodes Scholarship finalist. All three are or were honors students in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
The Marshall and the Rhodes Scholarships are the best-known and most competitive awards for graduate study in the world.
Jacob Condran is a senior majoring in history, international and global studies, and political science with a minor in French. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he now hails from Little Rock, Arkansas. He has previously received Sturgis and an Honor College study abroad grants. His parents are Jodi Piacenti and Jeffrey Condran.
“Being a 2020 Marshall Finalist has been an incredible honor,” Condran said. “Preparation during this process has required me to think deeply about the U.S.-UK relationship. The values that this relationship upholds is more important than ever. Aspiring to have a career with the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees, I hope to pursue a degree at Oxford to broaden my understanding of the international system and to study contextual issues that generate refugee crises around the world.”
Megan Rodgers is a senior majoring in political science, international and global studies, and Spanish and is from Siloam Springs, Arkansas. She is an Honors College Fellow and an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar. Her parents are Kyle and Laura Rodgers.
“I was truly honored to be invited to interview for these amazing scholarships,” Rodgers said. “Being awarded a Marshall or a Rhodes Scholarship would provide me with an unmatched opportunity to conduct two years of postgraduate study at leading UK institutions. As an individual who believes in the importance of global collaboration in supporting communities and individuals affected by violent conflict, I am excited by the opportunity to conduct my postgraduate research under the guidance of international leaders with a wide variety of perspectives that will challenge and refine my own. This experience will prepare me to be a leading advocate for collaboration between the U.S. and UK on these issues in the future.”
Maya Ungar graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2020 summa cum laude and as a Phi Beta Kappa member, with majors in political science, international and global studies, and French. She was a Sturgis Fellow and an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar. Her parents are Peter Ungar (a faculty member in the U of A anthropology department) and Diane Serenson-Ungar.
“I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to interview for the Marshall Scholarship, and for the support of all the incredible University of Arkansas faculty and staff who have helped me get to this point,” Ungar said. “I plan to pursue a graduate degree in the UK in order to prepare for a future career working as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service focused on issues of gender and conflict.”
“Fulbright College is incredibly proud of these students and their accomplishments,” said Todd Shields, dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “Regardless of the outcomes of these competitions, Jacob, Megan, and Maya are amazing individuals, who have made such a difference in their work in Arkansas and at the international level already, and who will no doubt be distinguished figures in their fields in the not-too-distant future. Congratulations to them and to their departments on a job well done.”
The three students interviewed last week for the Marshall Scholarship and would normally have traveled to Houston for the interviews, but because of COVID-19, they interviewed online.
Rodgers will also interview online for the Rhodes Scholarship before Thanksgiving. The Rhodes program will also conduct its well-known reception for finalists online.
More than 1,500 top students applied for the 32 Rhodes Scholarships and 40 Marshall Scholarships that will be awarded to Americans this year. Having three Marshall Finalists is a record number for the University of Arkansas. In 2017, two were selected as finalists and one of those two, Victoria Malloch, became a Marshall Scholar.
“Applying for these awards is not for the faint hearted,” said Charles Robinson, University of Arkansas Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. “The applications are extensive, and for those lucky few who are selected as finalists, the interviews are intense. That we have three finalists is remarkable and speaks loudly to their abilities and to the extensive support they receive from faculty. Arkansans Jacob Condran, Megan Rodgers, and Maya Ungar have competed successfully with the best this country has to offer just to be finalists. The University of Arkansas applauds their accomplishments and wishes them well in achieving their admirable goals for the future.”
The three students all share majors in international and global studies as well as political science. They have received support from faculty and staff in each of their programs and are conducting research in their areas of interest.
“Our International & Global Studies program prioritizes early mentorship of our students, so we have had the pleasure of watching these three candidates grow as scholars and leaders over the last four years,” said J. Laurence Hare, Associate Professor of History and Director of the International & Global Studies Program. “They are engaging learners, intrepid international travelers, and ambitious researchers. At the same time, they have been pioneers in our new peace studies concentration, and their commitment to using their education to build a more peaceful world has been inspiring. My colleagues and I are truly delighted to see them receive this international recognition of their talent and hard work.”
University of Arkansas students who are interested in applying for scholarships like the Marshall should contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE ON THE FINALISTS
After his freshman year at the University of Arkansas, Jacob Condran was selected as a policy and liaison intern for Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office.
In the Northwest Arkansas community, Condran has worked as a refugee employment intern for Canopy NWA, helping recently resettled refugees seek employment.
During the summer before his junior year, he was a regional security intern with the U.S. Department of State in Nicosia, Cyprus, where he worked with the Regional Security Office.
As a junior, Condran spent the academic year studying at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. While there he worked as a research assistant, analyzing European election results and Brexit negotiations. He also worked as a teaching assistant for a Czech language conversation course, where he helped instruct incoming international students in a two-week, intensive course. Outside the classroom, he volunteered at Dignity, a Czech refugee resettlement organization.
On campus he is a member of Students with Refugees, the Peace Corps Prep Program, and as a student ambassador for the Office of Study Abroad. He is the recipient of an Elizabeth and J. William Fulbright Study Abroad Scholarship, a Sturgis Study Abroad Grant, and an Honors College Study Abroad Grant.
Through a Marshall Scholarship, he plans to pursue a two-year MPhil in international relations at Oxford University. Condran’s long-term goals include working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
During her junior year, Rodgers spent a semester in Argentina and a semester in Rwanda, where she tutored high school girls in the Argentine foster care system and interned with the Legal Aid Forum in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
She has spent two years working with the national organization, STAND (The Student-led Movement to End Mass Atrocity) first as National Managing Committee Member, and now as the co-director. She also leads the STAND Congo Action Committee.
In the Northwest Arkansas community, Rodgers has worked with Canopy NWA, serving as community engagement intern, refugee services intern, and a mentor to refugee children. She was an after-school mentor with the PALS program, tutoring a local third grader in reading.
On campus, she has served as president and vice president of Students with Refugees, been involved with several ASG programs, is an Honors College Ambassador and Student Social Justice Advisory Board Member and has worked with international students on campus.
Through a Marshall Scholarship, she plans to pursue a one-year MSc in global governance and diplomacy at Oxford University and a one-year MSc in conflict studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Rodgers plans to work in international conflict prevention and mediation through a position with the US Department of State or an advocacy NGO.
In addition to being a Sturgis Fellow at the U of A, Ungar was also a Razorback Classic and a Senior of Significance She received various awards including the William Jennings Bryan Award, Dr. Henry M. Alexander Memorial Award, and the campus Fulbright Prize for Distinction in the Liberal Arts, as well as the state-funded SURF research grant, and a national Fulbright Student grant to Sri Lanka.
On campus, Ungar was the President and Founder of CoExist, a religious diversity organization; an executive team member of the Hillel Jewish Students Association for each of her four years; a peer mentor for Fulbright Honors College; and a language partner for international students.
Ungar has also participated in internships with the U.S. Department of State, Peace Corps, and Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest peacebuilding nonprofit, and helped to launch a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on youth civic engagement. Ungar has presented, published, and won awards for her research on issues of gender and conflict, and was a fellow for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington D.C.
She also studied abroad in Thailand, Denmark, and France, and after graduate school she will be pursuing a career as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service.
About the Marshall Scholarship: Beginning with the first twelve 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, independent and wide-ranging. It 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. Ten University of Arkansas have been selected as Rhodes Scholars. The most recent was Anna Terry (2000).