THS grad nominated for two scholarships
Prestigious awards could finance seveal years of study abroad
When Jonathan Lamb pens the essays that may qualify him for coveted scholarships for studies abroad, he frames his ideas around two of the most important people in his life -- his father and his mother.
Lamb, the son of Rick and Becky Lamb, is a candidate for both the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships.
It's an honor to be recommended for either scholarship. Lamb said he was surprised when Kansas State University officials selected him as a nominee for both scholarships.
KSU English professor Don Hedrick said it's unusual for a student to be recommended for both.
"In the 25 years or so that I've been here, I haven't heard of that happening," Hedrick said. "It may have but I don't know -- so we're crossing our fingers."
Rhodes Scholars are elected for two years of study at the University of Oxford. Students have the possibility of renewing their scholarship for a third year. All educational costs are paid, and each student selected receives living expenses for the school term and vacations, as well as travel expenses.
Those granted the Marshall scholarship can attend a university in the United Kingdom for two years. As with the Rhodes scholarship, all expenses are paid. And, in some cases, the scholarship may be extended for a third year.
K-State, the University of Kansas and Wichita State University, are allowed to nominate four student each for the Marshall and Rhodes.
In the college-level selection process, students go through a rigorous application process on their own campus. This includes an interview that could best be described as daunting, Lamb said.
"The faculty members were pretty scary," Lamb said. "They show a good deal of skepticism no matter how polished your answers are."
Jim Hohenbary, scholarship adviser for KSU, said Lamb's next step in the Marshall scholarship application process will be the Nov. 13-15 district interviews. About three weeks later, Lamb will learn if he has qualified for the Marshall.
In the Rhodes competition, students will participate in Nov. 18-19 state-level interviews. Students still in the running then will participate Nov. 21-22 in district interviews. Immediately after completion of this round of interviews, students will know whether they qualify for the scholarship.
If Lamb were selected for both scholarships, he would have to decide which to accept.
"Neither is deferrable," Hohenbary said. "So you can't hold both simultaneously. People competing for both if successful can be offered both scholarships, but then they've got to make a decision as to which one they will accept."
Hohenbary said the value of each scholarship could range from $40,000 to $60,000.
Lamb, who is in his fifth year at KSU, plans to graduate in the spring. An English major, he has a different goal than most of his college peers majoring in English literature.
Lamb said that frequently, English literature students are on their way to other fields, such as law. Others are education majors.
But a few, Lamb said, "Are like me -- hopefully a future professor who will go on into grad school."
Lamb appreciates all kinds of literature, but said his favorite is 16th and 17th century British lit.
"Everybody from Shakespeare to John Milton to John Donne and Andrew Marvell," Lamb said. "And I like poetry more than some of the other genres ... It's an age of poetry and it's really good poetry."
When he started college, literature wasn't on his mind.
"I was a computer science major," Lamb said.
The turnabout came when as a freshman he enrolled in an introductory course on Shakespeare with Don Hedrick as professor.
"I ended up loving it so much that I ended up switching to English and went on from there," Lamb said.
During an interview on Monday, Hedrick chuckled when reminded that Lamb had started out in computer science.
"I'm sorry to hurt the hard sciences, but they probably have enough people in computers," Hedrick said. "And it's great to see somebody follow their desires on these things."
In fact, Lamb has now made two trips to study in England, last summer on a stay at Cambridge University, and two years ago with Hedrick on an honors study tour of London.
"It was a wonderful trip," Hedrick said. "Jon really got a lot out of it. He was one of the people who most got his money's worth from the events -- he was always experiencing the most of everything -- whether it was high tea or theater."
As he completes his final undergraduate year, Lamb now has one extra assignment -- that of completing the applications for the scholarship. One of the most important areas in the applications is a 1,000-word essay.
This is where Lamb traces his love of literature back to his roots.
He begins his essay by reflecting on his upbringing:
"In my life I've heard over 800 sermons, my father is a pastor. I've also read over 1,000 books, my mother is a language arts teacher."
Highlighting the impact of his parents' influence, Lamb wraps up his essay, in part, with these words:
"So it would seem I'm back to sermons and books, because now I want to study things like John Donne, who was a pastor and poet ..."
Lamb looks forward to a career in which he can share his love of English literature.
"It's a full field and it, hopefully, will be something I can do for a long time," said Lamb, who last summer studied at Cambridge University. "Hopefully, I'll be a professor somewhere at a university."
Lamb, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout college, said he's striving to continue making all A's throughout his last year of college.
"I've really worked hard for a 4.0 and it's not something that has come easily," Lamb said. "I've had to work hard and spend a lot of time investing myself and my brain power in doing my best, which worked out well, I've been pretty fortunate."
Just in case he doesn't receive the Rhodes or Marshall scholarships, Lamb is also applying to other graduate schools -- 14 of them, to be exact.
Hohenbary said it's students such as Lamb who make his job as a scholarship adviser enjoyable.
"You get to work with great students," Hohenbary said. "Cheering on great students is a fun way to spend your day."