Two Stanford alumni awarded 2017 Gates Cambridge Scholarships

The Stanford alums are among the 36 Americans awarded scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England.

Stanford alumni Nicholas Ahamed and Anna Ntiriwah-Asare have won 2017 Gates Cambridge Scholarships for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England.

They are two of 36 American students awarded scholarships, the Gates Cambridge Trust announced last week. Including Ahamed and Ntiriwah-Asare, 39 Stanford students and alumni have received the scholarship since its inception.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the Gates Cambridge Scholarships in 2000 with a $210 million endowment to enable outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to pursue full-time graduate studies in any subject at the University of Cambridge. The scholarships cover the full cost of studying at the storied institution.

Nicholas Ahamed

Nicholas Ahamed (Image credit: Aimee Trujillo)

Nicholas “Nick” Ahamed, 23, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with honors (and a minor in statistics) at Stanford in 2015, plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations and politics at St. John’s College at Cambridge.

Currently, Ahamed is working as a data scientist in the applied data science division of Civis Analytics in Washington, D.C.

Ahamed, who studied at the University of Oxford through Stanford’s Bing Overseas Studies Program, said he was excited to learn he had won the scholarship.

“Ever since I studied at Oxford during winter quarter of my junior year, I knew I wanted to go back,” he said. “Studying at Cambridge allows me to fulfill a longtime passion of mine.”

Ahamed credited his thesis advisor, David D. Laitin, a professor of political science, and his academic advisor, Lauren Davenport, an assistant professor of political science, for their guidance and inspiration.

“They taught me how to conduct research that could be impactful and improve lives, as well as be academically rigorous, scientific and empirical,” he said.

Ahamed won a major grant award in 2014 to conduct research for his honors thesis, Islamophobia in America: An Experimental Approach to Anti-Muslim Prejudice. He also won a research grant in 2013 for the study Political Values as Policy Constraints: Explanations of the American Welfare State.

In 2015, he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, a nationwide organization honoring students for the excellence and breadth of their undergraduate scholarly accomplishments.

As a student in the Bing Overseas Studies Program during winter quarter of 2014, Ahamed studied at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. While there, he presented the initial results of his honors thesis.

As the managing editor of opinions for the Stanford Daily, Ahamed recruited, trained and managed a staff of 25 columnists who wrote on campus, state and national issues.

In May 2014, he proposed and developed a service learning program on campaigns, voting and elections for 12 Stanford students. He co-taught the course in winter quarter of 2015, and in May that same year served as trip leader for the group on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Washington, D.C.

portrait Anna Ntiriwah-Asare

Anna Ntiriwah-Asare (Image credit: David Laflamme)

Anna Ntiriwah-Asare, who earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with honors at Stanford in 2014, and a master’s degree in multidisciplinary gender studies at Cambridge in 2015, plans to pursue a doctorate in education at Cambridge.

“I am incredibly honored to receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship because of the values it promotes of not only producing excellent academic work but using this work to help others beyond the academy,” she said. “I am extremely thankful to the people who wrote recommendation letters, my mentors, my family, my friends and my fiancé who have always supported my dream to become a public intellectual. I am relieved to have everything I will need through the scholarship to continue on my path toward this dream.”

Her master’s thesis, “Intersectional Feminism and Cultural Relevant Pedagogy: A Black Feminist Case Study in Stockton, California,” has been accepted for publication in International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies.

Currently, Ntiriwah-Asare is teaching college-level courses through Alliant University at an Aspire Public School for low-income high school students in Stockton.

She founded and is the executive director of Photography Competing to Raise Support, a nonprofit organization that raises money for women’s health clinics and organizations through a photo shoot competition.

In 2014, she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

During the 2013-14 academic year, Ntiriwah-Asare served as the student-at-large representative of the Associated Students to the Faculty Senate.

In 2013, she was one of 10 students at Stanford who received a Deans’ Award for Academic Achievement, which honors extraordinary undergraduate students for “exceptional, tangible” intellectual achievements.

At Stanford, she also served as executive director of the Alternative Spring Break program while mentoring high school students preparing for college.

In addition, Ntiriwah-Asare was a member of Catch-A-Fyah, Stanford’s Caribbean dance group. She was a cast member in The Color Purple: The Musical About Love, a 2012 production of Stanford Drama and BackStage Theatre Company as well as a cast member in The Bluest Eye in 2014. Finally, Ntiriwah-Asare was co-president of Stanford’s Black Student Union during her sophomore year.

International scholarships

Stanford students interested in overseas scholarships and Stanford faculty interested in nominating students for such awards should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center at, or John Pearson, director emeritus of the Bechtel International Center, at