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Three UI grads to continue study at Cambridge in fall

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three University of Illinois graduates will be continuing their studies this fall at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, as recipients of prestigious, merit-based scholarships.

Michael Geline, 1225 Central Road, Glenview, and Joel Willis, 65 Bluemoon Road, Carbondale, are among the inaugural group of more than 150 students worldwide who have been named Gates Cambridge Scholars. The scholarships, funded by a $210 million endowment to Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, cover the full cost of studies at Cambridge, as well as some travel and living expenses. The awards are for one to three years of study, and in some cases, may be extended to a fourth year. Once the program is fully established, the goal is to have at least 225 Gates Scholars at Cambridge at any one time. About half of those students will be from the United States.

The scholarship program is administered by the Gates Cambridge Trust. According to Gordon Johnson, the president of Cambridge's Wolfson College, the trust "seeks American students who, through graduate study at Cambridge and perhaps additional graduate study in the U.S., are likely to make a significant contribution to their discipline by research, by teaching or by using their learning creatively in their chosen professions. The trust expects that Gates Cambridge Scholars "will deploy their education for the benefit of others, finding solutions for problems facing the societies of the world."

Geline, who received a bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering, with a mathematics minor, in May 2001, will study math at the university's Churchill College. An inductee in the Golden Key National Honor Society, Geline is an active member of the American Nuclear Society, served as a math tutor in the UI residence halls and has worked as a summer camp counselor.

Willis, who received a bachelor's degree in political science and in philosophy, will study criminology at Darwin College. At the UI, Willis regularly made the Dean’s List, participated in the James Scholar honors program and served as the undergraduate representative of the Campus Budget Oversight Committee. His other extracurricular involvement included participation in the Big Brother/Big Sister Program, serving as a peer mediator for the Youth Conference in Philadelphia and as a volunteer at a hospital, school and homeless shelter.

A third UI student, David Fike, 11 McGregor Court, Hawthorn Woods, is the recipient of a Churchill Scholarship, which will support a year of study at Cambridge. Fike, who received his bachelor's degree from the UI in May 2001, triple-majored in physics, astronomy and geology. At Cambridge, he will continue his studies at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Churchill College.

Established in 1959 by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, Churchill scholarships are awarded annually to 10 outstanding students for support of graduate study in engineering, mathematics and science at Churchill College. In addition to covering tuition and fees, the scholarships provide living expenses and travel allowances. The recipients are chosen annually from 57 universities and colleges across the country considered elite by the Churchill committee.

Fike, who was on the Dean's list throughout his undergraduate career, was a James Scholar and member of the Campus Honors Program. He also was a teaching assistant and freshman tutor, founded and served as president of the Illini Mars Society, and served on the executive boards of the Illini Space Development Society and the Float’n Illini Microgravity Research Team.