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Grad wins university's third Marshall Scholarship for 1998

Aaron Padilla was in Dakar, Senegal, making a routine call to his parents in Colorado when his mother told him he'd received a Marshall Scholarship last week.

"My mom hit me with the news, and I was dumbfounded," Padilla told Stanford Report by e-mail. "It has very, very slowly sunk in."

Padilla, who graduated last June with a bachelor's degree in international relations, is currently doing an 8-month around-the-world tour with friends. In the fall he plans to pursue a master's degree in environment and development at Cambridge, where he'll look at how developing nations balance economic concerns with environmental policy.

"Far from being an individual achievement, it is a testament to the support network I discovered at Stanford as a student ­ from my mentor professors to my RFs (resident fellows) and especially to all my friends," Padilla said of the Marshall honor.

At Cambridge, Padilla looks forward to joining "a community of students from the developing world, with whom I could learn and collaborate. UK universities serve as globally focused hubs for development studies, with many opportunities to conduct field research and return to synthesize information," he wrote in his Marshall application.

William Durham, chair of the Anthropology Department and Bing Professor in Human Biology, described the Marshall Scholarship as "the perfect next step" in Padilla's career. "He's one of those students that we'll be reading about in the papers one day. He has a broad-ranging and restless intellect. It's perfect for him to get an international perspective," added Durham, who recommended Padilla for the award.

As an undergraduate, Padilla, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, received several awards including the Chappell-Lougee Scholarship in 1995 and the Truman Scholarship in 1996. He conducted independent research in Costa Rica and Chile, and worked as an intern for the U.S. State Department last summer and at the Stockholm Environment Institute in 1996. On campus he served on the Unifying Board of the Haas Center for Public Service; played trombone in concert and marching bands; and was co-coordinator for Students for Environmental Action at Stanford. An accomplished athlete, Padilla has completed marathons in New York, Boston and Las Vegas and has climbed mountains in Colorado and Venezuela.

Rosamond Naylor, senior research scholar and director of studies at the Institute for International Studies, was Padilla's undergraduate adviser and also recommended him for the scholarship. "All of the attributes that make a good mountaineer also make a good scholar," wrote Naylor, who has scaled more than a few peaks herself.

For Padilla, the fact that most of the Marshall award winners were informed several months ago made the belated news particularly sweet.

"I was completely surprised! I never once considered that I could still win after so much time," said Padilla, who had applied for Marshall and Rhodes scholarships in his junior and senior years. "I know no details yet, since I'm so hard to reach here in Africa. I only assume that someone very belatedly declined the Marshall, and I was the next alternate in line. It is really a dream for me!"


By Elaine Ray

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