Great Gates

Michael Young ’11, philosophy, was recently awarded the Gates Cambridge scholarship, one of the world’s most selective academic awards. This fall, Young will enroll at the University of Cambridge to pursue his master’s degree in philosophy.

“It's a great honor and I’m very humbled. I look forward to representing our community,” said Young.

The Gates Cambridge program, which is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others. The awards cover the full cost of full-time graduate study and research in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Other 2011 U.S. scholars include students from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, MIT, the University of Chicago and other universities.

Young, who has also taken a heavy course load in biological sciences while at UMBC, plans to attend medical school after completing his degree at Cambridge. His goal is to work in bioethics, examining the philosophical framework and ethical theory grounding standards of care in medicine and public health.

“I think that the combination of philosophy and medicine can make medicine a more examined practice,” said Young. “It’s not something that people typically think about, because the alliance is not always clear… but the ways in which philosophers think, and the critical tools they use to analyze arguments, are ones that can be applied across the disciplines.”

In addition to his work in philosophy and biological sciences, Young is the founding director of Healing Harmonies, a student-run volunteer organization that organizes performances by student musicians for the elderly and sick, on the editorial board for Bartleby and a fencer on the UMBC fencing team.

“He’s a jack of all trades but he’s also a master of many of them. It’s rare to find that kind of excellence in more than one field,” said Simon Stacey, associate director of the Honors College, who helped Young prepare his application.

In order to be considered for the award, Young had to first gain acceptance to Cambridge. Then, his essay was reviewed by a selection committee and he was interviewed by a panel of scholars.

“The interview turned into a very interesting discussion about the dialogue between the disciplines and the utility of such a dialogue as it pertains to philosophy and medicine,” Young said.

Young is one of 30 2011 U.S. Gates Cambridge Scholars. The scholars were chosen from 800 applicants from 21 states and 30 U.S. colleges and universities. The American scholars will be joined by 60 Gates Scholars from other parts of the world.

UMBC alumni Philip Graff ’08, physics, and Simon Gray ’08, chemical engineering, received Gates Cambridge Scholarships in 2008. Ian Ralby ’02, modern languages and linguistics, M.A. intercultural communication, received the scholarship in 2007 and 2008.

“I think it’s really quite remarkable that a UMBC student, once again, should be among the few chosen,” said Stacey.