As we congratulate 18 students on being selected for the latest Churchill Scholarship cohort, they join the ranks of over 600 Americans who have taken part in the scheme since its inauguration sixty years ago.
Funded by The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, the first three Churchill Scholars arrived in 1963. Today, the Churchill Scholarship is recognized as a prestigious award which funds 18 scholarships per year. This comprises 16 Churchill Scholarships in science, mathematics, and engineering, and two Kanders Churchill Scholarships in science policy, for one year of Masters study, based at Churchill College.
The Churchill Foundation raises money to fund the Scholars, largely through individual donations and annual gifts. They have built relationships with 130 institutions who participate in the scheme.
In 1994, a Directory of Churchill Scholars was produced to mark 30 years of the scheme. Harold Epstein, Executive Director of the programme, followed up with past Scholars. He provided this tongue-in-cheek summary of their progress: “To my knowledge, none have gone to jail or become bankrupt, although two have run for office on the Republican line. The consolation is that both lost”.
Epstein also wrote, “What has been especially rewarding about this project – and the reason for this communication – is how often the Churchill Scholars to whom I’ve written and spoken have expressed their gratitude to the Foundation for giving them the experience that all found rewarding, and some consider to be the most significant in their lives.”
This sentiment is supported by testimonials from numerous Scholars. Antonia Rose Wilson, of the 1984 cohort, described it as “the happiest and most productive year of my life”. “Whatever success I have had in Science, can be traced back to that period”, wrote Eugene R Katz, who, like several Scholars, stayed on after his year-long placement to study a PhD. At the time, Katz was Professor of Microbiology and Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of New York at Stony Brook.
The programme has also been responsible for at least three marriage, with two Scholars of the 1987-1988 cohort marrying in 1991.
Current Executive Director, Michael Morse said, “The Churchill Scholarship takes the very best American students in science, math, and engineering, and gives them an experience only Cambridge can offer: a life-changing year of independent research in a non-hierarchical lab culture where they make meaningful contributions, and a work-life balance that many American universities seem to have lost”.
We’re delighted to have the current cohort of students with us, and we look forward to welcoming our next cohort later this year.
With thanks to the Churchill Archives Centre for access to files and correspondence relating to the history of the Scholarship.