Emory University selected Carly Colen (23C), Balwant-Amrit Singh (21Ox, 23C), Ben Thomas (23C) and Alicia Yin (23C)  as this year’s Robert T. Jones Scholarship recipients to study abroad in Scotland for a year at the University of St Andrews. They were chosen out of 22 applicants, joining the 150 Emory alumni who were named Bobby Jones Scholars, according to Assistant Vice President of University Communications Laura Diamond. 

Leah Woldai (23C) and Iris Chen (23C) were named alternate Scholars.

The Bobby Jones scholarship was established in 1976 in honor of the late Robert “Bobby” Jones (29L), a renowned golfer who was named Freedom of the City of St Andrews in 1958. Providing full tuition and basic living costs, the award recognizes individuals who are of “academic excellence and exemplary character, integrity and citizenship.”

The application process consisted of two essays, letters of recommendation and a series of interviews, according to Colen.

Bobby Jones Program Director and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Joanne Brzinski wrote in a March 16 press release that the scholarship saw an unusually diverse and  “outstanding” applicant pool this year. 

While at St Andrews, the four students hope to focus their studies in different areas. Colen plans to get her master’s degree in peacebuilding and meditation after graduating from Emory with her political science major and ethics minor this spring. She currently focuses on Georgia and U.S. politics, but will learn about political issues around the world at the St Andrews School of International Relations. 

“I thought that it would be a really great opportunity to apply what I learned there to policy and polarization in the U.S.,” Colen said. 

As outgoing president of Emory Fair Fight U, a club dedicated to promoting voting rights and civic engagement, Colen became invested in voting rights issues. She said working with the organization has been transformational and that she plans to use her time at St Andrews to enhance her understanding of international politics.

“I’m excited for the classes, but I’m excited to explore and get involved in activities on campus and meet people from all over the world,” Colen said.

At St Andrews, Singh plans to pursue a master’s of research degree in neuroscience and study an under-researched area of the hippocampus involved in memory formation. He will also work as a student volunteer with the Teddy Bear Hospital Society to teach health to schoolchildren.

Singh, who hopes to be both a research scientist and a medical doctor, was a mentor for the QuestBridge Scholars Network and the Pre-Health Advising Office and has worked as a medical scribe and ambassador in the Emory University Hospital Emergency Department, according to the press release. Singh found his passion for researching neurological disorders while working in a neuromuscular disease lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

As a first-generation Latinx college student, Singh is aware of the significance of representation in both patient care and lab work, which helped drive his commitment to leadership and peer support, according to the University press release.

Singh was not available for an interview before press time.

Ben Thomas (23C), Balwant-Amrit Singh (21Ox, 23C), Alicia Yin (23C) and Carly Colen (23C) were named Bobby Jones Scholars on March 16. Courtesy of Emory University

Thomas said he aspires to apply his comparative literature and political science double major and his strong interests in Russian and German to his master’s degree in comparative literature, which will focus on East German and Soviet film. 

Additionally, Thomas has already had six of his essays and translations accepted for publication, including in the University of California, Berkley’s Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal, the Apollon Undergraduate Journal and the University of Alabama’s Capstone Journal of Law and Public Policy. He has also presented twice on early Soviet literature at the American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting.

Thomas has also served as a research fellow at Emory Center for Law and Social Sciences and as an Interdisciplinary Exploration and Scholarship Fellow, teaching four interdisciplinary “sidecar” courses at Emory. He also helped teach classes on German and American film and fiction and fascism, religion and gender in Spain’s Francoist dictatorship. Thomas previously worked as a managing editor for The Emory Wheel and chaired the Wheel’s Editorial Board. 

At St Andrews, Thomas said he is interested in joining a jazz group and hiking. Thomas also credited Bobby Jones as a reason for applying for the scholarship.

“I was just generally pretty drawn to Bobby Jones and his legacy,” Thomas said. “He was a pretty interdisciplinary guy. He studied law, engineering and English all at different schools, which kind of corresponded to my journey through Emory.” 

At Emory, Thomas started out as a biology major before transitioning into his current political science major and studying English literature.

“The more I worked with literature, the more I loved it and that ended up being the concentration that’s meant the most to me at Emory,” Thomas said. 

Yin plans to pursue her master’s studies in research in anthropology, art and perception. 

“Neither of those things I really got to do a whole lot of during undergrad,” Yin said. “I was like, ‘OK, this is kind of cool.’ Even though I don’t have a lot of background in it, I get to try it out anyways, so I saw that as a really nice opportunity.”

Yin has worked for two years as a student researcher at the Winship Cancer Institute, investigating proteins involved in DNA damage for her honors thesis. She also has served as layout editor for the Emory Undergraduate Medical Review and as both a resident and sophomore adviser during her time at Emory. Yin said that was never able to study abroad during her time as an undergraduate student, but that this scholarship program will give her a chance to do so with a program fitting her interests.

At St Andrews, Yin said she plans to focus on a project that explores the “cultural side of illness.” Yin said the project will use photography to look into how mental health issues are perceived and their manifestations in the National Health Service in Scotland.

“Because I was able to have that more microscopic view of science and medicine during undergrad I partially also wanted to get more of a macroscopic, zoomed-out, social-cultural perspective of medicine, which is one of the motivations for proposing this project that combines health and anthropology and art,” Yin said. 

Carly Colen (23C) and Ben Thomas (23C) previously worked for the Wheel and had no role in writing or editing this article.

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Spencer Friedland (26C) is from Long Island, New York and is the Emory Wheel's Managing News Editor. He is a Philosophy, Politics and Law major and has a secondary major in Film. Spencer is also a part of the Franklin Fellows program at Emory.