April 29, 2004
Vol. 23 No. 15

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    Third-year wins prestigious Rockefeller fellowship

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    Last month, the College claimed its first winner of the prestigious Rockefeller Brothers Fund fellowship.

    Third-year Maria Marquez was one of only 25 undergraduate students nationwide to win one of the $22,000 fellowships, which are offered to top minority undergraduate students in the arts and sciences who wish to pursue a graduate degree in education and to teach in American public schools.

    This is only the second year that Chicago students were eligible to participate in the program, which requires fellows to complete three years of public school teaching, said Nancy Jacobson, Adviser in the College.

    Marquez, an English concentrator from Cicero, Ill., hopes to attend graduate school in education, likely at Columbia University’s Teachers College or the University of California-Berkeley. Following her graduate study, she hopes to teach English at a public school in New York City.

    In her application to the Rockefeller committee, Marquez said several of her high school teachers inspired her to teach because “they opened my mind to the world beyond Cicero.

    “I want to be that teacher who a student remembers all his life,” Marquez said. “This may sound like the classic reason; everyone wants to change the world. But I truly believe that if I can touch the heart of at least one student in my entire life and help him become an educated human being, then I will have made a difference.”

    Marquez has worked as a teaching assistant and tutor for the past two years through the University’s Neighborhood Schools Program.

    As part of her Rockefeller Brothers Fund fellowship, she also will be given a $2,500 grant to complete a summer research project under the supervision of a mentor. This summer, Marquez’s mentor, Craig Cunningham, Research Associate in Technology and Teacher Education in the Center for School Improvement, will supervise her research into programs for gifted children.

    In August, Marquez, who will be interning at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent and Development, an educational research institute that focuses on gifted programs, will present her research at the Rockefeller Brothers summer workshop in Washington, D.C.

    The primary goal of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund fellowship program, which was started in 1992, is to increase the number of minority teachers in American public education.

    The fellowships are intended to raise the level of awareness on liberal arts campuses of the importance and potential rewards of teaching in public schools; to encourage fellows to serve in those public schools most in need of excellent minority teachers; and to retain minority teachers in the profession.