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Stellar Scholars

Top students land prestigious academic prizes—once again.

Devinn Lambert and Kelvin Mei were awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships
Students Devinn Lambert and Kelvin Mei were awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships to pursue graduate study at the University of Cambridge. They were two of only 39 students chosen nationwide, with Rutgers being the only state university represented. Photography by Nick Romanenko

It’s become an annual rite of spring at Rutgers: student scholars being singled out to receive rare honors and once-in-a-lifetime invitations to continue their studies. This year, graduating seniors Devinn Lambert and Kelvin Mei were awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships to pursue graduate study at the University of Cambridge. They were only two of 39 students chosen nationwide to receive the prestigious scholarship, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The honor for Lambert and Mei brings to seven the number of students who have received Gates Cambridge Scholarships in the past five years alone (there had been one previous recipient). Rutgers was the only state university represented, trailing only Harvard, which had five scholars, tying Princeton, Yale, and Stanford, and eclipsing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke, both of which had one scholar. Rutgers’ strong showing underscores the university’s commitment to identifying qualified students early on and guiding them in the pursuit of advanced academic and service opportunities.

“These students have excellent academic records, research achievements on our campus and abroad, and the respect of their instructors, mentors, and fellow students,” said Arthur Casciato, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships, which is part of the Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “They demonstrate how Rutgers students can be competitive at the highest academic levels in the country.”

Last year, Lambert and Mei received Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, which honor academic excellence in math, science, and engineering. This year, the honor went to David Kolchmeyer and Josh Yarmush, who will be seniors. Meanwhile, senior Ben Chin was named a Truman Scholar, in recognition of “exceptional leadership potential” in those committed to public service. Chin, the university’s ninth recipient of the honor and the second in successive years, is one of only 62 students chosen nationwide.

Matthew Cortland SAS’11, who has been teaching in Florida through Teach for America since graduating, was recently selected for the Luce Scholars Program, which invites educators to teach in Asian nations to study native languages and enhance their understanding of host nations. Twenty-five Rutgers students were awarded Fulbright grants for 2013–2014, an all-time high for the university.