Baylor Senior Awarded Prestigious Marshall ScholarshipNov. 30, 2005
by Lori Fogleman (254) 710-6275
Baylor University senior Jamie Gianoutsos has been selected a 2006 Marshall Scholar, one of 42 university students in America to receive this premier scholarly award.
The official announcement for Texas was made Nov. 30 by the British Consulate-General in Houston. This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the Marshall Scholarships, which were established in 1953 as Britain's expression of thanks to the United States for Marshall Aid following World War II.
A 2002 graduate of Amarillo High School, Gianoutsos is the daughter of Jim and Mary Kay Gianoutsos, who now reside in Humble. She will receive her bachelor's degree from Baylor in political science and great texts in May, with her honors thesis on 17th-century British philosopher John Locke's view of civic education. She is Baylor's electoral commissioner, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a classically trained pianist and founder of Kappa Kappa Nu Medieval Honors Society.
The Marshall Scholarship will allow Gianoutsos to fund her studies for two or three years at a British university. She plans to study "English: Reconceiving the Renaissance" at Queen's University of Belfast.
"Fundamentally, I have two desires. One is to learn. I've always wanted to soak up everything. Secondly, I have a desire to share what I have learned with others. The Marshall Scholarship opens doors to the possibility of doing both," said Gianoutsos, who aspires to become a professor specializing in political theory.
Elizabeth Vardaman, Baylor's Marshall Scholarship representative, said Gianoutsos invested countless hours perfecting her Marshall application and essays, but Vardaman added that it is Jamie's life, her devotion to serving others and her performance as a scholar at Baylor that "shine through and beyond the documents she wrote."
"Her faculty mentors in political science, great texts and music inspired her to make connections across disciplines. Thus, Jamie's commitment to her education and her professors' commitment to their student proved to be an unbeatable combination," said Vardaman, who also serves as associate dean for special programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. "Such student-faculty relationships have long been a hallmark of a Baylor education, and we are jubilant that such a deserving, outstanding Baylor student has been named a 2006 Marshall Scholar."
"Baylor has given me a place, and it has given me a chance to sit at a coffee shop with a professor and analyze a text line by line, and I don't hear of that happening at any other university," Gianoutsos said.
One of Gianoutsos's faculty mentors is Dr. Dwight Allman, associate professor of political science and graduate program director, who first taught Gianoutsos two years ago in a course on modern political philosophy. Allman said Gianoutsos's achievement shows that students are well-advised to let their passions guide them in their academic pursuits.
"Winning the Marshall Scholarship is, of course, a great personal triumph for Jamie, whose course of life will no doubt be permanently impacted by this prestigious award," Allman said. "Jamie stood out for the passion she brought to the serious and careful study of classic texts in the history of western political thought, particularly, the works of John Locke. She approached each text as a kind of banquet of ideas upon which her mind might feast."
Following that first class, Gianoutsos and Allman continued to study Locke in an "individualized, directed-readings" format and began to formulate a project for her honors thesis, one that combined her scholarly interest in Locke and her passion for political philosophy.
However, their weekly sessions turned into more than just Gianoutsos's ambition to graduate with honors. It became, as Allman remarked, a "more immediate and consuming hunger for weighty ideas and for intense conversation about the consequences of such ideas for American constitutionalism, for our defining commitments to liberty and equality, and for our self-understanding as social and political beings."
Gianoutsos also acknowledged Dr. Sarah-Jane Murray, assistant professor of medieval literature and French, for putting her on a professorial path. Murray said she, too, has been inspired by Gianoutsos, who was a student in the first class Murray taught at Baylor in 2003.
"Jamie is without a doubt an extraordinary young woman," Murray said. "In my letter of recommendation to the Marshall committee, I had to enumerate all of her many, many talents, and in the closing, I told the committee that there is no way that I could do justice to her, her high moral standards, her extraordinary wit, her true commitment to the life of the mind and her service to others. She is a young leader in our community, and the committee did the right thing in choosing her as a Marshall Scholar."
The Marshall Scholarships, financed by the British Government and worth approximately $60,000 over two years, provide an opportunity for American students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership potential, to continue their studies within the United Kingdom for two or three years.
Long regarded as one of the highest accolades and won through rigorous national competition, the Marshall Scholarships cover the scholar's tuition costs, books, travel and living expenses while in the United Kingdom. Prominent former Marshall Scholars include the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt; New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman; and scientist/inventor Ray Dolby.
Gianoutsos and Allman also praised Vardaman for her work in assisting students throughout the meticulous, time-consuming application process for international scholarships.
"Dean Vardaman has been an inspiration," Gianoutsos said. "She works on weekends with students who are applying for international scholarships. Without her, I don't think this would've been possible."
"It is a vindication of the vision and hard work over many years of Elizabeth Vardaman, who is almost single-handedly responsible for putting a structure in place by which outstanding Baylor students like Jamie can be prepped and polished for the rarified competition that winning such a scholarship involves," Allman said.
Gianoutsos is the second Baylor student to be selected as a Marshall Scholar. Baylor graduate Cinnamon P. Gilbreath was chosen for the honor in 2001.