Distributed December 16, 2002
News Service Contact: Kristen Cole
Marshall and Rhodes scholarships
Two recent Brown graduates win scholarships toward further study
Sasha Polakow-Suransky’01 has won a Rhodes Scholarship, and Eric Tucker ’02 has won a Marshall Scholarship. Both will pursue advanced degrees at the University of Oxford next fall.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University graduates Sasha Polakow-Suransky and Eric Tucker won competitive scholarships to study at the University of Oxford next fall. The awards were announced this month by the Rhodes and Marshall scholarship committees.
Polakow-Suransky, of Washington, D.C., graduated magna cum laude in May 2001with a double concentration in urban studies and history. Tucker, of Providence, graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brown last spring with a double concentration in Africana studies and public policy.
Polakow-Suransky, 23, will use the Rhodes scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition, room and board, and expenses, to pursue a doctorate in South African history at Oxford, an interest which stems from his personal experience. His parents were anti-Apartheid activists who left South Africa in the early 1970s, before he was born. Later, his father returned to the country and Polakow-Suransky witnessed the waning days of Apartheid and the country’s transition to a democracy. At age 11, he met Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected state president of South Africa, during a forum for college students held six months after Mandela’s release from prison. Polakow-Suransky also spent a few months there last summer, researching high school instruction of history in the post-Apartheid era.
Currently, Polakow-Suransky works as a freelance journalist, with pieces published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Brown Alumni Magazine, and The American Prospect. He plans to continue writing while at Oxford and, later, combine his area of study with his writing to pursue a career in international journalism. “I want to do intensive research about the region I’m interested in and want to cover,” he said.
While at Brown, Polakow-Suransky served as a managing editor of the College Hill Independent and worked for Direct Action for Rights and Equality in Providence, where helped prepare a database of police brutality cases and conducted research into a discipline policy in the city’s public schools. He won a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, and the Urban Studies Department Best Thesis Prize.
Rhodes scholarships were established in 1904 by the estate of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and colonialist. Recipients must show high academic achievement, integrity, leadership and athleticism.
Tucker, 22, will use the scholarship, which funds two to three years of study at any British university, to pursue a Master of Science in education research methodology at Oxford. He aims to combine a rigorous program in qualitative research methods with an inquiry into the philosophical foundations of the social sciences. After completing the degree program, Tucker intends to pursue a doctorate in political science, with the goal of conducting research into the education policies impacting urban schools.
“I want to write policy that builds the capacity of schools to attain high standards while empowering teachers to serve as leaders in their schools and communities and to actively engage the public as decision-makers in the education process,” he said.
While at Brown, Tucker founded the Providence Urban Debate League, a statewide youth development program dedicated to improving urban schools. He currently serves as assistant director to the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues, where he supports similar efforts in 240 secondary schools in 35 school districts.
Raised in Iowa and Japan, Tucker has consulted with non-governmental organizations and school districts in 15 states and in Europe, Asia, and Latin America about education-related issues. He has worked alongside Iowa farmers, community-media activists, convicted juveniles, undocumented immigrants and international youth organizers.
Among the awards Tucker received as an undergraduate were a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, Royce Fellowship, and Noah Krieger Prize for Brown’s best public policy thesis. At Brown, he also coordinated a volunteer law and society program at the state juvenile prison and analyzed policy for the Office of the Superintendent of the Providence School Department.
The Marshall Scholarships, financed by the British government, were established in 1953 to thank the people of the United States for the assistance Britain received after World War II under the Marshall Plan. The highly competitive scholarships are worth about $50,000 each.