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Stanford student wins Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in England

A Stanford student will be heading to England next year as the winner of a Marshall Scholarship, which funds two years of study at a British university. Nathaniel Parker VanValkenburgh, Class of 2003, is going to Britain next October to pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in world archaeology, most likely at the University of Cambridge.

VanValkenburgh, who goes by his second name, Parker, is majoring in anthropological sciences, with a minor in history. He is a university President's Scholar and a Priztker Summer Scholar, and has spent his summers between studies on various archeological digs. In addition to studying three languages -- Chinese, Quechua and Spanish, useful during field work in China, Peru and Costa Rica -- he has served as a peer adviser in the Anthropology Department, president of the student forum on Latin America, co-president of the archeology association and docent at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Anthropological Sciences Chair John Rick, whom VanValkenburgh worked for as a research assistant on a dig in Peru last summer, described him simply as "brilliant and bashful."

VanValkenburgh has a long-standing interest in overseas study and lists China, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Spain among his experiences. His interest in the Marshall program got a kick-start after he spent Spring Quarter at Stanford's program at Oxford. "I hadn't really intended to come back [to England], but I really enjoyed it. And Cambridge has a long-standing reputation of good archeology," he said. Part of the appeal of studying in Britain, he added, is "being able to speak the same language, yet still enjoy a foreign culture."

VanValkenburgh's interests extend beyond the academic. He has worked with the Night Outreach/Street Forum group and the Students for Environmental Action. Amidst all this socially redeeming extracurricular activity, there's a glimpse of Parker the typical college student: founder of the Stanford Beer Appreciation Society. Asked what he was looking forward to in England next fall, VanValkenburgh responded without skipping a beat: "the beer."

VanValkenburgh hails from Tulsa, Okla., where he received an international baccalaureate from Booker T. Washington High School. After graduation and before leaving for England in October, VanValkenburgh plans to spend the summer working on another archeological site. "I'll either dig in China, Peru or Turkey. In Peru I could practice my Quechua. China -- I'm fascinated by China. And Turkey is reportedly the 'dig of the century,' Çatalhöyük, an incredible site with crazy preservation." After completing his Marshall studies in Britain, he plans to return to the United States to pursue a doctorate in anthropology, specializing in the archeology of the Andean Formative period.

The Marshall Scholarships offer two to three years of study at top universities in the United Kingdom. It was established by the British government in 1953 as an expression of thanks to the United States for aid given under the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild Europe after the devastation of World War II.

No Stanford student won a Rhodes Scholarship this year, a disappointment that John Pearson, director of the Bechtel International Center, attributed to greater competition from a wider range of schools. Over the years, however, Stanford has claimed more than 80 Rhodes Scholars. Stanford students also have had great success with the Fulbright program, which provides funding for academic study almost anywhere around the world, which Pearson said may indicate that students are more interested in pursuing graduate study elsewhere than in Britain.


By Andrea M. Hamilton

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