Georgia Tech Student Wins Rhodes Scholarship
Posted November 21, 2004 | Atlanta
For Jeremy Farris, going to college isn't about getting good grades and a job. College is about the experience of education and an opportunity to expand the mind. It's a sentiment that, while not surprising to hear from a college student, might be unexpected from a student with a 3.94 grade-point average who's just been named one of 32 Rhodes Scholars for 2005.
"The purpose of an education isn't to get you a job," said Farris, a senior in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Ivan Allen College. "The purpose of an education is to change you - to make you sufficiently human."
Before coming to Tech in 2000, the Bonaire, GA. native won a best of category award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his discovery of a new pathogen that can control the invasive plant kudzu. As a result of the award, he was chosen to become an American delegate to the 2000 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Science Forum in Singapore. The trip inspired him to travel to Argentina on a study abroad trip the following summer, where he produced a documentary on the indigenous people of that country. These experiences eventually led to him changing his major from biology to international affairs.
Since then he has conducted research on the possibilities for post-Castro democratization in Cuba and traveled to Guatemala to work on reforestation projects and collect footage for a documentary on illegal immigration networks.
"The thing about Jeremy that is really amazing is his desire to understand how the world works," said Kirk Bowman, associate professor of international affairs and director of Tech's study abroad programs in Latin America. "He studies international affairs, but he feels the need to know science and philosophy so he can understand how the pieces fit together."
At first glance, Farris' holistic approach to learning may seem at odds with Georgia Tech's career-oriented, disciplinary tradition. But the continuing rise of liberal arts, management and the interdisciplinary focus of Tech's science and engineering programs prove Farris to be a model of Tech's future student body.
"We need to think of education as something very real and important in itself," said Farris. "Georgia Tech can no longer be considered just a math, science and engineering institution."
Farris credits Bowman and two other Ivan Allen College professors, Jon Johnston and Ken Knoespel, with changing his life. "Bowman introduced me to democratization. Knoespel and Johnston really stimulated the life of the mind for me," he said.
Upon entering Tech, Farris became the recipient of the Roe Stamps President's Scholarship, which, along with the HOPE scholarship, paid for his education at Tech. "Had I not gotten that, I don't know that I would've been able to come to Tech," he said. "I'm absolutely thankful for the opportunity."
Farris is the third Georgia Tech student to win a Rhodes Scholarship. The first student was S. Alton Newton, who won the honor in 1951. The second was physics student Will Roper who the Rhodes in 2002.
The Rhodes Scholarships pay for two or three years of study at Oxford University, just outside of London. The oldest international fellowships in the world, they were established after the death of British statesman Cecil Rhodes in 1902. This year, 32 American students along with students from 22 other countries are being chosen for their academic achievement, personal integrity and potential for leadership to become Rhodes Scholars.
Farris is scheduled to receive his bachelor's in international affairs next month. He then plans on spending the summer as Bowman's teaching assistant in the Argentina study abroad program. He'll begin a two-year master's of philosophy program in political theory at Oxford October.
His career goals are just as broad as his education. Aside from conducting research and teaching public policy, he'd like work with the American Civil Liberties Union and the White House, should newly-elected U.S. Senator Barack Obama run for President.
"His level of expertise is just stunning," said Bowman. "As a professor, I spent a lot of time with Jeremy in a lot of different countries. I have learned more from Jeremy than he has ever learned from me."
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.