Rutgers senior chosen from international field as Gates Cambridge Scholar
Chelsie Richie, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, was among 36 young scholars selected to be part of the 2017 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
The program was established in 2000 by a donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The prestigious postgraduate scholarship program fully funds postgraduate study for 1-3 years and includes housing, travel fees and research fees.
The scholarship’s mission is to create a global network of students with outstanding academic achievements as well as passionate future leaders that are committed to improving the lives of others.
Arthur D. Casciato, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships, said that Richie is the ideal candidate for the scholarship.
“I never worked with a fellowship candidate who fit more snugly with the priorities of the award than Chelsie. She has an abundance of the academic potential, the leadership and the passion for social justice that the Gates Cambridge Foundation seeks for in a candidate,” he said. “And that’s not to mention Chelsie’s warm and engaging personality when she talks about what she wants to accomplish.”
Richie is the ninth Rutgers student to win the award in the past decade.
“This is the kind of achievement and consistency that demonstrates the excellence of both Rutgers students and our faculty,” Casciato said. “It’s a record in which the entire Rutgers community can take pride in.”
At the University of Cambridge, Richie will pursue a master’s in Africana studies.
“(Winning the scholarship) definitely says a lot about Africana studies, one being an underrepresented department but they have some of the most incredible and brilliant students in the University, but yet we’re still underfunded,” Richie said.
Richie said that she hopes to have an influence on education and policy and she would also like to practice law in the future.
“I want to have some sort of influence on education and policy, but I would also like to teach too, and also want to be a lawyer," she said.
The Office of Distinguished Fellowships helps assist students and recent graduates throughout all stages of the application process for major national fellowships.
“The Office of Distinguished Fellowships Department does a wonderful job preparing students for these types of awards,” Richie said. “Dr. Casciato has been a great help, support and encouragement and helping me not only prepare for the interviews, but also discussing with me what to expect.”
Around 800 candidates applied for the scholarship in 2017 and 97 were moved forward to two interviews — one by shortlisting committees, and another in Washington, D.C. by panels of scholars from both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Richie said that the Douglass Residential College and Africana Studies Department also assisted in preparation for her success.
“Douglass Resident College and Africana Studies both have been my main support from the beginning,” she said. “If it wasn’t for Douglass I honestly would not have been at Rutgers, because I would have dropped out after my freshman years because I was facing a financial crisis and Douglass really helped. Douglass Residential College, the department of Africana Studies and the Office of Distinguished Fellowships has been the main reason why I got to where I am.”
Richie recommends that students interested in applying for the scholarship apply for more than the prestigious title.
“If you’re applying for a scholarship don’t just apply for the prestige that comes with it, actually have a story and know what you want to do, because things are quite different in the U.K., and I’m still learning about that,” Richie said. “When I was applying I had to write a couple essays about what I wanted to do and I also had to research about the program and get to know who the professors were."
Richie said that she suggests students conduct their research with purpose, rather than simply doing it for the prestige.
“I have two bits of advice for students,” Casciato said. “Anyone considering the scholarship should come to the Office of Distinguished Fellowships, and the second advice is that you should try. You can’t win unless you try.”