UW News

December 3, 2018

UW’s Havana McElvaine selected as prestigious Marshall scholar

UW News

Havana McElvaine is a Marshall Scholar

Havana McElvaine is a Marshall scholarUniversity of Washington


University of Washington alumna Havana McElvaine, Class of 2017, has been selected as a Marshall scholar, one of the highest honors available to college graduates in the U.S. She plans to attend the London School of Economics and Oxford University.

“I was totally shocked,” said McElvaine, 23. “First I felt surprised, followed by an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the amazing team that I had supporting me through this process and throughout my time at UW.”

Founded by an act of the British Parliament in 1953, the awards pay all expenses for up to three years of study at a British university of the student’s choice. Marshall scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. This year, 48 scholars were selected to pursue graduate study in any field at a UK institution.

UW's Havana McElvaine

UW’s Havana McElvaineScott Eklund/Red Box Pictures

McElvaine, who was captain of the UW women’s soccer team, plans to earn two master’s degrees: one in Inequalities and Social Science from the London School of Economics; and a second in Evidence Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at Oxford University.

“From the combination of these programs I’ll be able to deepen my understanding of inequality through interdisciplinary approaches, and hopefully use that understanding to interrupt policy where it might be ineffective,” McElvaine said, who earned her undergraduate degree with a major in sociology and a minor in diversity. “It’s my goal to continue to engage with issues of social inequality through policy making and social justice work.”

McElvaine is the first UW student to achieve this honor since Jeffrey Eaton was selected in 2008. This year, more than 1,000 students from across the United States applied for the scholarship, and only 20 candidates in the San Francisco region, which includes Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Northern California and most of Nevada, were selected for Marshall interviews. Five scholars from the region were selected.

“Havana arrived at UW as an excellent athlete and has emerged as a scholar, leader and communitarian,” said Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “Her experience at UW has helped shape her into a true global citizen. In turn, our campus has learned from Havana and been impacted by her immersion. To have lasting impacts on each other is what we hope our university and students experience together. We celebrate Havana’s accomplishments and her impact on our campus and the world she has traveled.”

Though she was recruited from Denver to the UW for her athleticism, she excelled both on the field and off.

“Her academic journey always seemed to be more about growth and improvement than achieving a certain grade-point average for her résumé. She became an involved and engaged student while at Washington. I feel that competing in Division I athletics really helped her embrace being out of her comfort zone, and I could see the direct correlation in her academic pursuits. She just went for it,” said Lesle Gallimore, head coach of the women’s soccer team. “Havana is loud and proud. She has an opinion but is a better listener. She is curious and inquisitive and has a genuine and deep concern for humanity.”

During her studies, she stood out to many faculty mentors, including Alexes Harris, a professor of Sociology.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for her,” said Harris. “When we try to shape global citizens, she’s the perfect example.”

McElvaine was also a recipient of the UW’s Bonderman Travel Fellowship, a unique award that supports extended, international and independent travel. Her eight-month solo journey included visits to Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, India and Thailand, where she grappled with ideas involving her own identity, and the politics of difference, history and privilege.


For more information, contact Jackson Holtz at 206-543-2580 or jjholtz@uw.edu.