The chance to embark on a Marshall Scholarship was a wake-up call for Matthew Salah ’21 — literally.
The honors economics and political science major was sleeping in, the day after Thanksgiving, when he was awoken by a phone call from Marshall officials.
“I normally don’t pick up from random numbers, but for some reason, I did,” says Salah, of San Mateo, Calif. “When I heard it was about the Marshall, I immediately perked up. It was a great start to the day … but it took awhile to sink in.”
Salah is one of just 46 students from across the U.S. this year to receive the highly selective honor, which invites burgeoning leaders to pursue graduate studies in the U.K. He will enter a one-year master’s program in ecological economics at the University of Leeds.
“I hope to use this education as a springboard for my future endeavors in building a new conception of the economy: one that can remain in line with planetary boundaries while improving social outcomes,” says Salah. “I eventually plan to pursue a Ph.D. in ecological economics, which I hope to leverage for a career in public policy and academia.”
The prospect of meeting some of his favorite authors and scholars in ecological economics is what most excites Salah about the award.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity to engage with people doing serious thinking about how our economic system should adapt to the climate crisis,” he says.
The scholarship will also satisfy the “travel bug” Salah has felt since his study-abroad program in Japan was canceled earlier this year due to the global pandemic.
“I cannot wait to travel around the U.K.,” he says, “especially the beautiful area of Yorkshire where I’ll be studying.”
Salah, who took part in the Peaslee Debate Society at Swarthmore and also served as director of public forum debate for the national Victory Briefs Institute, credits the College with helping to prepare him for the Marshall.
Specifically, he points to Fellowships and Prizes Advisor Melissa Mandos and others who helped to hone his Marshall application and prepare him for the interviews. He also cites the opportunity to work closely with professors like Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science Ayse Kaya, who encouraged him to apply.
“My professors gave me the confidence to apply for something like this,” he says.
More broadly, though, Salah credits the College with sharpening his critical thinking.
“The Economics Department is filled with such wonderful and inspirational people,” he says, “and I am so thankful that they maintained my engagement in the subject.”