Posted December 8, 2008

Temple student wins prestigious Marshall Scholarship

Christina Thatcher, a senior College of Education major, found time to volunteer in Philadelphia schools each semester while working full time and maintaining a 3.9 GPA.

Thatcher’s mix of community involvement, strong academics and creative ability impressed the Marshall Scholars selection committee and she was recently awarded a scholarship that will allow her to further her studies in creative writing, education, and sociology at two universities in Britain.

Among the most prestigious international scholarships, Marshall awards support outstanding students undertaking graduate work in any field by financing their studies at any university in the United Kingdom.

Nearly 1000 students apply each year. They must first be endorsed by their own universities and colleges on the basis of exceptional credentials. Only the top 40 are chosen to receive this competitive award.

“The Marshall Commission looks for transformational thinkers who will become leaders in their fields," said Ruth Ost, Temple Honors Program director. “Christina shows tremendous promise. She is profoundly inspiring.”

Christina Thatcher

Thatcher will pursue a Master of Arts degree in Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing at Cardiff University, followed by a Master of Arts degree in Equity Issues in Education at the University of York.

“Christina is an extraordinary young woman who deeply impressed the committee with her intelligence, creativity, courage, drive, and determination,” said Ray Raymond, chair of the New York Marshall Selection Committee. “She has that rare combination of academic and personal excellence, outstanding academic ability, grace, modesty and maturity that makes a true Marshall scholar. Her potential as an educator and writer is boundless.”

Thatcher, who majors in both English and Secondary Education and minors in Sociology and Anthropology, is the third Temple student to receive a Marshall Scholarship.

James Eisenhower, who today practices law in Center City, received Temple’s first Marshall Award in 1987. Nearly two decades later, Mena Hanna, a composition major in the Boyer College of Music and Dance, was awarded the scholarship in 2006. Hanna is currently pursuing a D.Phil. in Music Composition at Merton College, Oxford University.

Marshall Scholars include Roger Tsien, 2008 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry; Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner; and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

“Temple students succeed in the highest levels of academic competition," Ost said, “They excel as part of the international community of scholars, artists and activists committed to improving our world. Christina will be a wonderful addition to this network.”

Thatcher made the most out of the field experience and practicum work required for the College of Education by taking time to really get to know the students she worked with as a volunteer in local schools and adult education centers. Had it not been for the teachers who helped Thatcher discover her creativity, she may have continued to stow away her works of art in journals and composition.

“As I began to write, my teachers began to take notice,” said Thatcher. “Mr. Blake kept my poetry in a folder in his desk, Ms. Sample told me to bare everything but tell nothing, Mrs. Semisch introduced me to the poetry of John Donne. These teachers became my keepers, offering their bay-windowed classrooms as safe havens and creative sanctuaries."

In addition to her writing and community work, Thatcher also competes in Western riding for the Temple equestrian team.