Sophie Wilkowske CC’17 wins prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sophie Wilkowske CC’17, a history major from Duluth, Minn., has received a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue an MPhil in political thought and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge.

Photo: Courtesy Sophie Wilkowske CC’17Photo: Courtesy Sophie Wilkowske CC’17 Wilkowske was one of 36 U.S. scholars to receive this award, chosen not just for their outstanding academic achievement but also their social leadership. She is interested in conducting research on the rhetorical and conceptual role of children in economic thought as it pertains to the early modern European political economy, with a specific focus on British and French authors.

“We are thrilled that Sophie has been chosen for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. This is a huge accomplishment, both for Sophie and for Columbia,” Scott Carpenter, associate dean of global education and fellowships, said. “Her win is a testament to the strength of our students. The Gates Cambridge is a great fit for Sophie, and we look forward to seeing where her research takes her in the future.”

Wilkowske is a recent inductee into Junior Phi Beta Kappa — awarded to two percent of the graduating class — and received a Beinecke Scholarship in Spring 2016. She has worked as a research assistant for W. Bentley Macleod, the Sami Mnaymneh Professor of Economics and a professor of international and public affairs; for Carl Wennerlind, associate professor of history at Barnard College; and for Ethan Striblink, for whom she has conducted archival research in the Rare Books and Manuscript Library for a book-length commissioned history of the Community Service Society. She ultimately hopes to pursue a PhD in history with a focus on economics and intellectual history.

I am honored to be chosen as a Gates Cambridge scholar. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such supportive, talented professors and mentors at Columbia: they have helped make this possible for me and have modeled the kind of engaged, critical academic work I want to do,” Wilkowske said. “I'm excited to pursue my research, collaborate with fellow Gates scholars and explore all that Cambridge has to offer next year.”

Wilkowske is the publisher of the Columbia Political Review, where she oversees all aspects of the student publication’s production. She has also served as a college mentor at the College’s Double Discovery Center, which works with low-income and first generation college-bound Manhattan-area youth to ensure high school graduation, college enrollment and completion and responsible adulthood, and is an Uihlein Undergraduate Teaching Fellows at Columbia’s Center for American Studies, teaching a political theory seminar, “Freedom and Citizenship,” to low-income high school students. In addition, she has interned as a speech, privacy and technology intern at the American Civil Liberties Union and as a banking technology intern at Morgan Stanley.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship, established in October 2000 by a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge, provides students from outside the United Kingdom the opportunity to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Students are selected based on intellectual ability, leadership potential, commitment to improving the lives of others and fitness for the postgraduate program they are applying for at Cambridge.

Wilkowske’s scholars cohort will also include Erica Cao PS’19, who is returning to Cambridge on her second Gates Cambridge Scholarship to complete a PhD in collaborative songwriting, a degree she will pursue in conjunction with the completion of her medical training at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.