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ISSUE 121 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/18/2008

Scholars awarded graduate funds

By Kirstin Fawcett
Copy Editor

Friday, April 18, 2008

St. Olaf College is often praised as an institution of higher learning that stresses academic rigor and excellence. The 2007 -- 2008 school year has affirmed the college's reputation for overall scholastic achievement by producing two Rhodes Scholars and eight Fulbright Grant recipients. However, St. Olaf's year-long spree of scholarship-winning students has yet to close.

As of late March, two more students have been added to the school's roster of prominent pupils: NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner David Swanson '08 and Goldwater Scholarship recipient Paul Nichol '09. Swanson and Nichol's scholarship awards will aid in their pursuit of post-graduate education.

Swanson, a math major with a concentration in Statistics, has been awarded $7,500 by the NCAA to finance further studies in biostatistics at Harvard University.

Similarly, Nichol, a chemistry major, has been granted $7,500 to help pay for undergraduate tuition, room and board and books. Nichol hopes that the Goldwater scholarship will help him save money for future graduate-school study in physical chemistry.

While the NCAA Post-Graduate and Goldwater Scholarships cater to different types of students, both awards are selective. The NCAA awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships annually, 87 for men and 87 for women. The Goldwater Scholarship, in turn, dispersed a mere 321 scholarships this past year to undergraduate juniors and seniors.

Nichol decided to apply the Goldwater Scholarship after resolving to pursue a future in chemical research. Established by Congress in 1986, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was founded to encourage the production of scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to undergraduates planning careers in science-related fields.

Nichol, whose campus involvement includes three years of St. Olaf cross country and track, as well as summer research conducted with the Chemistry department's Dr. Greg Muth, was one of 1,035 students nominated to be a potential recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Nichol said on being one of the few selected for the honor of Goldwater Scholar. "I look forward to continuing my research career."

Swanson, an honor student who has been the two-time captain of the St. Olaf men's cross country team, is an ideal recipient of a NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. The award, which was created in 1964 to promote athletes' postgraduate education, evaluates candidates on the basis of their participation in NCAA championship and athletics, academic performance, and graduate-degree aspirations.

Although Swanson intends to eventually study biostatistics in graduate school, he is unsure whether he will transition directly from undergraduate student to Ph.D. candidate. "I may defer for a year. I'm not yet sure," Swanson says. "If I do defer, I'll probably be tutoring in Bloomington and taking a class or two at the U of M."

Students interested in applying for future Goldwater and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships can find more information at and

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