SJU Student Heads for Cambridge on Marshall Scholarship

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Having earned his bachelor’s degree in June—along with a host of top academic honors—Shama Ams ’14C is heading to England this summer for graduate study at Cambridge University as St. John’s first Marshall Scholarship recipient.

The Marshall Scholarship—one of academia’s preeminent international awards—finances accomplished young Americans for graduate study in the United Kingdom. Ams will pursue graduate study at Cambridge while continuing to focus on his interests in diplomatic service and public health in the developing world.

A Ronald McNair Scholar at SJU, Ams is the founder of a nonprofit organization that aims to distribute medical equipment in Africa. His long-term goal is to help promote sustainable economic activity in developing nations while “raising consciousness and solidifying local networks of service delivery for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.”

"The Marshall selection committee’s recognition of Shama is quite well-deserved," said André McKenzie, Ed.D., vice president of academic support services. "As the first St. John's student to be awarded this honor, Shama is a source of pride for the entire University community."

Ams, a government and politics major, also has received a Fulbright Award and a Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship, among other recognitions. "Shama’s success results from his ‘can do’ spirit in and out of the classroom," said Konrad Tuchscherer, Ph.D., associate professor of history and associate provost for external scholarships and fellowships. "No task is too great and no challenge too tough for him."

A Marshall Scholar himself, Tuchscherer recognized Ams as an ideal candidate. Born in Texas to a preacher who emigrated from Nigeria, Ams has become “a New York City success story,” said Tuchscherer. “He turned his dreams into a roadmap for success in the city and at St. John’s."

Ams had high praise for the support he has received from his faculty mentors at St. John’s—and the work of the Graduate Admissions Assistance Program. "Working with Dr. Tuchscherer and the GAAP office has changed my life," Ams stressed. "I am forever grateful to my mentor, Fred Cocozzelli, Ph.D., for suggesting that I pay the GAAP office a visit.”

"The office unlocked opportunities that I had never considered before,” Ams continued. “It also supported me through every obstacle of every application, and instilled the confidence in me to strive for great things.”

The Marshall Commission was established by the British Parliament to commemorate US Secretary of State George C. Marshall’s plan for European economic development after World War II. “The culture, mission, and goals of the Marshall Commission seemed to align with my desired career path," Ams noted.