Five students and recent graduates win Marshall Scholarships

Sheena Chestnut

Sheena Chestnut

Tarun Chhabra

Tarun Chhabra

Ross Perlin

Ross Perlin

Joe Shapiro

Joe Shapiro

Clara Shih

Clara Shih

Five students and recent graduates are among the 43 young Americans to be awarded 2005 Marshall Scholarships.

Financed by the British government, the scholarships provide an opportunity for outstanding American students to continue their studies for two to three years at a British university of their choice. Each scholarship is worth about $60,000 and covers tuition, research, living and travel expenses.

This year's Stanford recipients are Sheena Chestnut, Tarun Chhabra, Ross Perlin, Joe Shapiro and Clara Shih.

Sheena Chestnut, 22, is on track to earn a bachelor's degree in political science, with honors in international security studies and a minor in creative writing, this spring. She will pursue a master's degree in international relations at Oxford University in the fall. A native of Spokane, Wash., Chestnut has worked closely with Stanford faculty on undergraduate research projects in the area of security studies. She spent last summer in London, where she interned at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Tarun Chhabra, 24, of Shreveport, La., lives in New York, where he serves as research officer for the United Nations Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. Previously a Fulbright Fellow in the Russian Federation, Chhabra was based at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, where he studied shifting Russian perspectives on U.S. foreign policy. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in Slavic languages and literature and international relations, and with university distinction and interdisciplinary honors from Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation. As an undergraduate, he directed the public service fellowships programs of Stanford in Government; worked for the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project; completed internships at the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and performed with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. At Oxford, he will study the evolution of U.S. engagement with the United Nations and pursue a doctorate in international relations.

Ross Perlin, 21, was born and raised in New York City and is majoring in classics and East Asian studies. He plans to graduate in June 2005 and then pursue a master's degree in classics with a focus on Greek philosophy at Cambridge University for the first year. "Cambridge has some of the most cutting-edge scholars of ancient philosophy and has embraced a comparativist approach to ancient philosophy, allowing me, for instance, to use Daoist ethical ideas from Chinese philosophy to reflect on the ethical propositions of the Greek stoics," he said. Perlin plans to spend his second year at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies pursuing a master's degree in Chinese.

Joe Shapiro, 23, was born in Fargo, N.D., was raised in Oregon and currently lives in Washington, D.C. In 2003, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with distinction in economics and with honors in the Ethics in Society Program. His honors thesis on the ethics of legalizing kidney sales was based on interviews with kidney sellers in the slums of South India. He also served as a teaching assistant in the Department of Philosophy for a course on medical ethics, and was editor-in-chief of the Stanford Journal of International Relations. After graduating, he worked with the World Bank and Mexico's Secretariat of Public Education to evaluate an education program for several million disadvantaged Mexican students. More recently, as a Junior Professional Associate for the World Bank, he has written extensively on indigenous poverty in Latin America. He plans to complete a master's degree in development studies at Oxford, and then obtain a doctorate in economics at a university in the United States.

Clara Chung-wai Shih, 22, is set to earn a bachelor's degrees from Stanford this spring in computer science and economics, with honors in the Science, Technology and Society Program. She also will graduate with a co-terminal master's degree in computer science. She plans to pursue a second master's degree in economics for development at Oxford in the fall. Born in Hong Kong, Shih did field research for her honors thesis while attending Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2002. At Stanford, she is designing prototype collaboration software and user studies in the Department of Computer Science. Her earlier research in sensor technology, which she completed at the University of Illinois-Chicago while a junior in high school, led to a commercial product release and several publications. Two years ago, Shih founded Camp Amelia Technology Literacy Group, a nonprofit organization that creates software aimed at improving basic education in underserved communities in the United States and developing countries. Stanford students and faculty from the Department of Economics and the schools of engineering and of education are involved in the effort. She is a Mayfield Fellow, a Merage Foundation for the American Dream Fellow, a Google Anita Borg Scholar, a Microsoft Women's Scholar, a Society of Women Engineers Scholar and a United States Presidential Scholar. She also is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society.

The Marshall Scholarships were established by the British government in 1953 as a gesture of thanks to the people of the United States for the assistance received under the Marshall Plan following World War II. More than a thousand young Americans have been awarded scholarships since the program's inception. In addition to intellectual distinction, the awards honor people who are likely to become leaders in their field and to make a contribution to society.

Staff writer Michael Peña contributed to this report.