JHU senior wins award Scholarship provides for study in Britain

education focus planned

December 18, 1998|By Rasmi Simhan | Rasmi Simhan,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Johns Hopkins University senior Craig Zapetis has a grand vision: government that focuses on providing opportunities for the disadvantaged.

He also sees the little picture: He has tutored inner-city children since childhood.

Next fall, he'll continue to meld his vision and experience to develop approaches to educational reform at Oxford University.

He received one of 40 Marshall Scholarships announced this week.

The British Consulate in Washington awarded the scholarships to students from 28 U.S. colleges and universities. Each student will receive a two-year grant from the British government to study at a British university.

The only Maryland native awarded a scholarship was Yale senior Jillian Cutler of Bethesda, who will study at Cambridge University. She could not be reached yesterday.

Students receiving awards demonstrated "academic excellence and leadership potential," according to the British Embassy's Web site.

Zapetis, 21, of Miami, said the grades and recommendations weren't the toughest parts of the application. The political science major revised his essay four times until it captured "where I was coming from" -- both his childhood and his vision for changes in public policy.

"Education is a big determinant on people's futures," he said, citing his experience in the Miami public school system. While he took advanced courses, students who took basic classes considered themselves "off the college track," he said.

A member of the Tutoring Project, a Hopkins volunteer organization, Zapetis helped develop three outreach programs: inner-city coaching in soccer and tennis, and mentoring. "You can't go to Hopkins without seeing opportunities for community service starting just a block from campus," Zapetis said.

He also tutored reading and math in Sandtown-Winchester in West Baltimore. Some fifth-graders joined the ranks of the 15 former students he tutored and now writes to each month. "They respond to that kind of affection," he said.

His plans include a mentoring project in neighborhood schools and a program to develop a computer center in the Greenmount area.

He said he hopes that experience with the centralized British school system will provide insights into America's locally administered schools. But the scholarship offers more than the opportunity to learn, he said. He "fell in love" with Oxford and England during a visit last year.

"It's a magnificent opportunity to experience the rich European culture," he said. "The students are serious, and they study hard, but the relaxed pace is unfamiliar to Americans. [Oxford] is the most peaceful place on earth."

The British government established the Marshall scholarships in 1953 to thank the United States for its financial assistance after World War II.

Regional and national advisory councils in the United States screened and selected the recipients.

Scholarships cover student tuition, travel, room and board -- about $28,000 a year for two years of study, Zapetis said.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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