Archive for November, 2007

Saturday November 17, 2007

November 17, 2007 - 10:50 pm 5 Comments

So much has happened since my last update – the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of competitions and travel! The uncertainty of senior year has ended. No longer is my immediate future a conditional probability. In the next two years, I will pursue two degrees at Oxford: a Masters in Science in Economics for Development and a Masters in Science in Financial Economics.

Even now, the fact that I won both a Rhodes and Marshall Scholarship remains surreal. Never did I dream of such a felicitous outcome! To me, the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships encapsulate four years of my commitment to pursue and define my own interests and passions. The scholarships were never my original intention, but the product of loving to learn and doing what I enjoy. (To be honest, I am still somewhat stunned that I was able to get both!) The Huntsman Program and my experience at Penn have been nothing short of an extended epiphany. From investment banking experience in Hong Kong and Wall Street to gathering micro-credit field data in rural Mexico and starting my own micro-business incubator in Lagos, Nigeria, I have seen so many promising doors open – exciting opportunities to explore.

So many people have supported and believed in me during this long journey. For the Rhodes application itself, I needed eight letters of recommendation. At Penn, I have found truly inspirational faculty mentors who unequivocally believe in me. At home, I have parents and a sister who love me unconditionally.

As I do have a penchant for lists, I will try and detail some of my latest adventures:

  1. Rhodes Scholarship District 9 Interviews (November 16-17):

I spent this past weekend in Pittsburgh with 15 other Rhodes finalists from Virginia and Ohio. In fact, two of the other interviewees were my old high school and middle school peers! In the past four years, we really have specialized and found our own niches. Since the Rhodes interview process begins with an informal networking event followed by a formal interview, I had a chance to engage in meaningful conversation with both the distinguished committee and my fellow peers. I am truly impressed with everyone that I met! From conducting labor market analysis in South Africa, serving in the air force, and developing artificial joints to analyzing bird color, volunteering for public health causes in the Dominican Republic, and assessing the efficacy of a decentralized public health system, my peers are true world travelers and thinkers. Nearly all of them are athletes of some type, from dance and soccer to ice hockey and football. I really enjoyed meeting everyone. The committee was comprised of people from a variety of backgrounds, such as a doctor in the medical school at Pittsburgh, a professor of sports law at Harvard, an astrophysicist, and philanthropist. The interview was tough, but interesting (to be honest, I walked out thinking I did not do so well). Not only did I have to debate the merits of censorship in Spanish, but I also delineated the causes of the sub-prime meltdown and the efficacy of recent British government bailouts of bank runs, among many other topics. Nevertheless, it seemed to work out in the end!

  1. Marshall Scholarship Interviews (November 9)

Unlike the Rhodes interview, the Marshall interview is just one thirty-minute interview. The Marshall committee was quite amazing! There was a leading pediatrician, a young lawyer who argued three successful cases in front of the Supreme Court, a notable geologist, and the director of a major policy institute at Johns Hopkins, among many others. I really enjoyed the thought-provoking conversation. Somehow, the Marshall committee managed to compress a very thorough interview in a very short amount of time.

  1. Suffolk Debate Tournament

The Suffolk Debate Tournament…unfortunately, I encountered an instance of unfair judging in debate which precluded me from breaking to elimination rounds. This was actually the first tournament I’ve attended during my entire college debating career in which I did not break. Nevertheless, I placed first in impromptu – an activity that I relatively disdain given its inherent subjectivity and whimsicality, but was compelled to do by my coach and team. (Ahh, the irony…) In all honesty, impromptu is a rather enjoyable activity, but not too substantive. Nevertheless, it always helps to learn how to speak spontaneously about a variety of subjects in philosophy, history, literature, and science.

  1. YouthBank

Our site is up and running! The Penn Entrepreneurship Clinic has been supportive, and we’ll soon get 501-3c status, which will make us eligible for more grants and donations. Visit to learn more about our exciting new developments. Market surveys are coming in…computer hardware is about to be bought in preparation for launch in summer 2008. In the next few weeks, we’re going to try and hold a fundraiser event in conjunction with the Penn African Society.

    5.   Hospital Stay

From an objective perspective, the past few weeks have been abjectly dismal from a health perspective. Right before the Marshall interview, I was hospitalized overnight at the ER due to an infection that went into the bloodstream, leading to a long rash winding up my arm. Thank you to my friends and family who made an otherwise unbearable time much better. Most recently, due to a food or insect allergy (cause still undetermined), my face, arms, and left eye were swollen. In fact, I went into the Rhodes Interview looking slightly disheveled and red. I’m sick of feeling itchy and swollen…I must find a way to rectify my heightened sensitivity to allergens.