Mason Students Recognized for Achievements

Posted: December 13, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lexi Soya

Alex Antram is not a typical college girl. Not only has she had outstanding success in her classes, but she has also studied in Oxford, worked as a writer for several organizations and spent a summer conducting anthropological field research in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Amanda Agan, another exceptional student, works as a research assistant for economics professor Alexander Tabarrok, has organized highly successful events for the Pro-Choice Patriots and the George Mason University Economics Society –both of which she co-founded – and published several of her own research findings, all while maintaining a 3.96 GPA.

These are two of Mason’s finest undergraduate students, and their outstanding achievements have merited some recent attention.

Seniors Antram, an anthropology major, and Agan, an economics major, were chosen by the university to apply for the USA Today Academic All-stars Award, which recognizes 20 outstanding students nationwide for their accomplishments. Award winners will be featured in USA Today’s Life section in February.

Last September, Antram and Agan were also endorsed by the university to apply for the Marshall Scholarship, one of the most prestigious graduate-level scholarships awarded in the United States for students hoping to study in the United Kingdom.

Senior English major Kyle Munkittrick was the third candidate chosen to apply for the Marshall. He is a University Scholar, has had experience abroad in China and is currently studying in Mason’s Oxford Honors program.

While none of the endorsed candidates ultimately received the scholarship, nomination for the award is admirable in itself, says Deirdre Maloney, Mason’s postgraduate scholarship coordinator.

“Students endorsed for the Marshall Fellowship must be outstanding in a number of ways,” she says. “They are expected to act as the best representatives of U.S. college students.”

Antram, a national finalist for the award, made it farther in the process than any Mason student ever has. Maloney sees this as a step in the right direction.

“It takes a while for organizations to recognize when good students are coming from a particular university,” says Maloney, “Once Mason becomes better known for its high achievers like Alex and Amanda, we’ll begin to see more students receiving these awards.”

Going through the demanding application process for the Marshall has proved helpful in other endeavors, the students say. “I learned how to better tie my ideas together and to talk more like I write,” notes Antram.

“It was wonderful interview practice,” says Agan, “and I’ll be able to use the essays later for grad school.”

Both students plan on continuing their studies and eventually earning PhDs. Their experiences thus far, such as the research skills they’ve gained through the Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program coordinated by Laurie Fathe, will help them in the future.

When asked which endeavor she’s most proud of, Antram spoke of her experience in Tonga. “It was difficult both emotionally and physically, but it really helped me grow as a person and a student. Now I know that I can do anthropology in the field.”

“I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to get involved in research; I’m proud of what I produced,” Agan affirms. “And Dr. Tabarrok has been so helpful. Without him I would not be what I am today.”

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