Written by News Bulletin News Sources   
Thursday, 26 December 2013 14:45

bouril COLOR

Thomas Bouril (NIU photo)

Thomas Bouril, senior University Honors student and history major from Rockford, is the first Northern Illinois student ever selected to interview for a chance to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

As a finalist, Bouril was recently invited to spend a weekend in Chicago to compete for the chance to earn a Master of Letters in History from Oxford University in England.

Thirteen candidates from District 10, comprised of Illinois and Michigan, vie every year for only two awards. The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world, with only 32 Americans selected yearly from among hundreds of applicants. The scholarship, formed by Cecil J. Rhodes, has provided 7,521 students with tuition, fees, a living stipend and airfare to study at Oxford University since 1903.

Bouril’s path to this honor has been somewhat unconventional.

Until three years ago, he had never sat in a classroom with other students or a teacher other than his parents. As a home-schooled student, he learned to study independently and to integrate his academic studies into real-world applications. He also developed a strong drive toward academia, which he approaches with a competitiveness not often seen. Not being in a conventional classroom shaped his work ethic and created the academic foundation that has allowed him to succeed.

His enrollment at both Rock Valley College, where he maintained a 4.0 GPA, and NIU, has filled him with such excitement that the classroom is where he wants to spend his career. He continues to excel and maintains a 4.0 GPA as a history major and Community Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) minor. His research interests center on the interactions between western nations and African nations during the post-colonial period. His goal is to earn a doctorate in history and become a history professor.

Bouril is well-known on campus for his role as a University Honors Fellow, research efforts, advocacy for transfer students, involvement in campus committees and organizations and for his work in CLCE. In the summer of 2013, he also participated in the Summer Research Opportunities Program.

Under the guidance of a research mentor, Nancy Castle, Bouril researched the existing resources available to people with disabilities in Europe. His data mining and findings have laid a foundation for other CLCE students to expand into further research on this topic and greatly contributed to the development of Castle’s planned study abroad program for the summer of 2014.

Bouril has received many awards and recognition opportunities prior to being selected as a Rhodes finalist.

Until now, he considered his Harvard National Model United Nations “Honorable Mention” and his internship for Rockford-area State Rep. Joe Sosnowski his most notable accomplishments. But it’s clear that Rhodes is something special too. “It was really an amazing experience and such an honor to make it to the finalist stage. I feel so thankful for everyone who helped me get there and prepare for the weekend.”

--News Bulletin news sources

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 December 2013 14:50
 
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