Students receive Thouron Award for study abroad

· February 2, 2011, 4:13 am   ·  Updated February 2, 2011, 12:00 am

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Tea, crumpets and an open door to higher education are awaiting six Penn students and one recent graduate.

On Monday, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships announced seven recipients of the Thouron Award — a Penn-specific scholarship that provides full funding for undergraduate and graduate students to study in the United Kingdom.

According to award administrator Carole Clarke, this year’s scholarship total marks the highest number in the past decade.

“This round of applicants was one of the most exciting that I’ve ever seen,” said Clarke, who has been involved with Thouron for about 20 years. “They’re clearly a group that’s taken to heart the mandate of making a difference in the world.”

Starting this summer, each of the seven recipients will have the opportunity to continue their learning abroad — all thanks to the efforts of one family.

Sir John Rupert Hunt Thouron and Esther Driver du Pont Thouron established the scholarship in 1960 as a way to forge Anglo-American connections. Fifty years after the program’s inception, John Rupert Thouron and Rachel Thouron Vere Nicoll — Sir John’s grandchildren — continue to provide opportunities for Penn students to study in the U.K.

The scholarships, which are funded solely through an endowment from the Thouron family, also allow British students to pursue graduate studies at Penn.

For College senior Rachel Romeo, learning of her Thouron selection was “the high point in a roller coaster of ups and downs.”

“It’s exciting to know that I’ll be able to continue my research in a new environment next year,” said Romeo, who has spent the past few years studying language development in hearing-impaired children as part of an independent research project for her thesis.

Wharton and College senior Sourav Bose said that he “wanted to contextualize the experience [he’s] had at Penn … and thought that it would be a good thing to do in the U.K. rather than the U.S.”

For applicants, the Thouron Award process consists of a few steps.

According to CURF Director Harriet Joseph, 59 students submitted applications for the scholarship this past November. After a Penn academic committee narrowed that list down to 16 finalists, candidates met with the Thouron family last Saturday for a day-long interview process.

For 2010 Wharton and College graduate Julia Luscombe, Saturday’s final cut “helped show what a strong community and extended family exists behind Thouron.”

Luscombe, who is currently on a Fulbright Scholarship in Ecuador, flew back to the U.S. last Wednesday in order to make the interview.

“It’s been kind of a lightning trip, but I couldn’t be happier with how it worked out,” she said.

College seniors Grace Ambrose, Aaron Levy and Valeria Tsygankova and College and Wharton senior Nimit Jain round off the list of this year’s scholarship recipients.

Ambrose summed up her reaction to Monday’s news: “This will be life-changing, to say the least,” she said.

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