Fresno State student Gavin Baird has been awarded the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, receiving full funding to attend the London School of Economics and Political Science while earning his master’s degree in international relations.
The Marshall Scholarship is a program financed by the United Kingdom government, offering U.S. scholars the opportunity to study in the UK.
Founded in 1953, it was named in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall. The scholarships are given as a gesture of appreciation from the British to their American counterparts after the U.S. assisted them under the Marshall Plan following World War II.
Baird, a senior political science major with a minor in economics, said it was an incredible feeling when he received the congratulatory phone call about earning the scholarship, one he is still in shock about.
“It was just an honor to be interviewed,” Baird said. “Then to find out I actually got it. I’m still almost speechless, but just really looking forward to the experience.”
Baird was one of 31 people who won the scholarship nationwide. The pool of applicants each year is usually between 950 to 1,000, Baird said.
He was awarded as one of three winners of the Northern California region.
Despite the extensive process to apply, Baird said he was nonetheless glad he did it. The scholarship was something he thought about in high school, but it was Fresno State mass communication and journalism professor Dr. Bradley Hart who inspired him and really sparked his interest, Baird said. Hart’s education at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the University of Cambridge made it seem realistic, Baird said.
“He’s been beyond what I ever could’ve expected, he’s just fantastic,” Baird said. “He’s been helping out every step of the way. He helped pursue the dream.”
Part of the scholarship includes being able to select a university in the U.K. to attend.
Because of Baird’s interest in immigration policy, when he is finished with his masters he hopes to write and implement policy himself. Following the scholarship, he has plans to continue his education and pursue a PhD.
“Fresno State has been an incredible experience for me. It’s really given me everything I needed to do this,” Baird said. “It’s been a great experience, so hopefully I can take what I learned in Fresno and move along with it.”