July 17, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 19

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    Scholarship allows alumna to take Chicago Economics training to graduate school

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    A 2006 College graduate is the second Chicago student since 2000 to receive a graduate scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, one of the most competitive scholarship programs for graduate study.

    “I got the phone call just last week, and I am beyond ecstatic about this opportunity,” said Lisandra Rickards, a native of Jamaica who earned an A.B. in Economics. She also served as a Student Marshal and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

    Rickards, who will attend Harvard Business School in the fall, said that she’s most looking forward to putting the skills she gained at Chicago to use in a new environment.

    “At the University of Chicago, I gained a very strong foundation in economic theory, and I now have a very rigorous approach to economic thought, which I think will put me at a unique advantage, as that is something you can only get at Chicago,” said Rickards.

    For her first year after graduating from the College, Rickards worked with Steven Levitt, the Alvin H. Baum Professor in Economics and the College, and Director of the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory. Currently, Rickards is in her native Jamaica, working directly with the country’s Minister of Finance to help develop Jamaica as an international financial center.

    “In my current job, I’ve gotten a taste—just a small taste—of the world of finance and leadership, and I’m really looking forward to taking that and running with it at Harvard,” she said.

    Mary Daniels, Senior Adviser for Scholarships and Fellowships in the College, described Rickards as gifted, intelligent and genuine.

    “Lisandra was the first person in her family to go to College and the first person from Jamaica to receive a full scholarship to the University of Chicago,” Daniels said. “She sets the bar high and worked extremely hard during her time in the College, always staying focused on the very high goals she set for herself. She truly is an extraordinary individual with tremendous perseverance and energy who richly deserves the honor of a Jack Kent Cooke scholarship.”

    While Rickards hopes to someday return to Jamaica to put her education to use, she said she has not carved any future dreams in stone just yet.

    “When I first arrived at the University of Chicago, I had such a concrete idea of what I wanted to do in my life and in my career,” she said. “But now I’m a bit wiser and more open to letting things fall into place and seeing where this next chapter takes me.”

    The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s graduate scholarship program is considered one of the most competitive and generous, providing up to $50,000 per year for up to six years of study—a potential total of $300,000. More than 1,000 students are nominated for the scholarship annually, with just 50 recipients every year.

    The scholarships are named for Cooke, a philanthropist and successful businessman who died in 1997 and was owner of the Washington Redskins and the Chrysler Building in New York City. In addition to the graduate scholarships, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation also offers a variety of scholarship programs and awards to middle and high school students, in addition to its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships, which offer financial support for outstanding undergraduate students to transfer from community colleges to some of the country’s top schools.