Philosophy major also won Truman, Phi Kappa Phi, and USA Today honors
Brigham Young University student Ryan Keller, who will be awarded a degree in philosophy during graduation ceremonies this Friday, is the university's first winner of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, an honor established by the Microsoft magnate in 2000 to reward winners' "intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world."
The award, which pays all expenses associated with Keller's master's program in international relations at Cambridge, is worth about $38,000. Totaling other academic awards he's earned to date, the Salt Lake City native has another $37,500 at his disposal for his plans after graduate work in England – law school.
Keller joins 30 other American winners, including five from Harvard, taking part in the program Gates patterned after the well-known Rhodes Scholarship, which sends winners to Oxford. Keller has also won national scholarships from the Truman Scholarship Foundation, Phi Kappa Phi and USA Today.
"I'm also excited to interact with the other 30 winners," said Keller, 23. "The Gates scholarship is focused on service and rewarding people who can be change agents. The ideal and the focus of the Gates is to provide an education for students so they can go out and change the world – alleviate poverty, end war."
In October he'll begin his one-year program in Cambridge, which will include studies in international relations, economics, security, theory and Arabic. Keller has long been interested in seeking a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
"That's one of, if not the, worst conflicts that is still raging," he said. "The Middle East is a volatile region that we're feeling aftershocks from around the world. This has been a festering problem and until it gets rooted out we will continue to feel its effects."
Before leaving for England Keller plans to visit Guatemala, where he served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and fulfill an internship with U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
For more on the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, see The Gates Cambridge Scholarship Page.
For more on Keller's achievements that made him competitive for these awards, see this previous BYU news release.