Not many people turn down a Marshall Scholarship — the prestigious award giving outstanding American students the chance to earn a graduate degree in the U.K.
Westporter Nick DiBerardino did.
With good reason: He won a Rhodes Scholarship too.
Today the Rhodes Trust named the 2007 Staples grad as 1 of 32 men and women selected to represent the U.S. at the University of Oxford, for up to 4 years.
Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest, best known — and most prestigious — academic awards available to American college graduates.
They were created in 1902 by the will of Englishman Cecil Rhodes, noted South African diamond merchant and African imperialist. But enough about his tainted money. Let’s talk about Nick.
He was selected from an initial pool of over 1,500 applicants. Final selection is based on high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor. Rhodes hoped his Scholars would “esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.'”
Nick certainly does. At Staples he was valedictorian, and president of both Student Assembly and the National Honor Society. He also founded a club that collected and refurbished musical instruments, then delivered them to a Bridgeport elementary school.
Nick — a gifted musician — was so impressed by the students that he traveled to the school a couple of times each week, to teach music.
Now a senior at Princeton University, Nick is majoring in music composition. A campus leader in student government and member of Phi Beta Kappa, he has received many awards for his compositions. He founded the Undergraduate Composer Collective at Princeton.
Nick will earn an M.Phil degree in music at Oxford.
All 16 Rhodes Trust district committees met yesterday, to select 2 winners each. 209 applicants from 88 colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition.
The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees. It also covers expenses in Oxford and during vacations, and transportation to and from England. Total value of the scholarship is approximately $50,000 a year.
In an email to Staples principal John Dodig, Nick paid tribute to the role his high school played in preparing him for his new adventure.
And, perhaps, in giving him the analytical skills to help choose between a Marshall Scholarship, and a Rhodes.