What process did you go through to become a Marshall Scholar?
There were two essays on the application (and) four letters of recommendation. ... We knew by the end of October whether we were finalists or not, and we interviewed the week following that notification. Then I found out the day of my interview--that evening. They apparently interviewed 16 people and chose four from the Los Angeles region. There are eight different regions around the country (from which Marshall Scholars are chosen). It was a very fast process; I was really impressed.
Who interviewed you?
It was a panel of a variety of different notables in L.A. There was the former foreign editor of the Los Angeles Times, a UCLA astronomy professor, the director of music up at Arizona State (University) and the British consul general, of course. There was a man from the Los Angeles Philharmonic. So it was a very diverse crowd, which was excellent, because then people could talk about different things and ask you questions from different angles. It was good, too, because my area of interest is energy security, and it was nice getting those questions from other areas. You know, not everyone was an expert in the areas I was looking into, so they could ask follow-up questions that could help me elucidate my views a bit more for the panel.
How did you prepare for that?
I guess all my college career has been preparation, especially studying abroad and stuff. But I had three mock interviews at the Honors College here at the UA. They had different panels for every one; they basically just took UA professors and such. Those mock interviews are very hard--much harder than the actual interview. For my first mock interview, the second question I got was: "Do you think the United States can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?" I was floored. I was like, "Henry Kissinger couldn't answer this question, let alone myself." So, yeah, they were pretty hard. The actual interview was much easier, thank God. And then I had friends ask me questions--random questions--all the time. I'd go over to friends' houses, and they'd pull questions out of their butt.
So, energy security-- tell me what your interest is in that area. What are you going to be studying in the UK?
... It's going to be two master's degrees in two years. That's the nice thing about Marshall (Scholarships): You have to use both years of funding, and most master's programs in the United Kingdom are one year. So it'll be two master's, which is excellent. ... I'm an international studies and economics double-major, and I was always very interested in the economic-development side of things. I started realizing over time that the very foundation of the world economy is energy: hydrocarbons, oil, coal, nuclear, wind power, renewable energy. These things are the basis; our economy wouldn't run without energy. So I started thinking about what the geopolitical, international security and developmental ramifications of that are. We always think about oil sitting at, right now, a little (less than) $60 a barrel. We always think, "Oh God, what is the price at the pump?" God forbid it should be (more than) $2. But what does it mean for people--rural farmers in China--who have to power what little machinery they have with portable generators that use diesel? When the price of oil is high, we think about ourselves. But in the developing world, it's also very tragic to have high oil prices.
It started the summer after my sophomore year, when I interned with Nuclear Threat Initiative, which is an organization in (Washington,) D.C., founded by (former Democratic Senator) Sam Nunn and Ted Turner. ... This is an organization devoted to combating nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism. It was a random internship. I didn't think I'd have any interest in it; I just wanted to intern in D.C. I really enjoyed it, and I started thinking about the geopolitical ramifications of nuclear energy and started looking more at oil and natural gas and renewable energies.