December 12, 2016

Taylor Harwood ’15 receives prestigious Marshall Scholarship

Taylor Harwood (center) at Commencement 2015. She graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and Top 10 in her class. Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10 / By Rebecca Studios.

Taylor Harwood ’15 was named a 2017 Marshall Scholar in a formal announcement today by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission.

Aimed at strengthening British–American relations, the Marshall Scholarship supports promising, intellectually distinguished U.S. students in their pursuit of graduate work in the United Kingdom. The scholarship is considered one of the most prestigious in the world.

Harwood graduated summa cum laude with a double major in English and history. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she also graduated Top 10 in her class. During her time at St. Kate’s, she was an Antonian Honors Scholar, Admissions ambassador, resident advisor and O'Neill Center tutor.

Since graduation, Harwood served for a year as a St. Joseph’s Worker in communications and fundraising at Mary's Pence. Currently, she's interim executive director at the Springfield History Museum in Oregon.

“We’re thrilled that Taylor was selected as a Marshall Scholar,” says Alan Silva, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences. “These are very difficult times in our nation right now, but if students like Taylor are the future, then I have a renewed sense of hope. This is our mission at work. This is why we educate women to lead and influence.”

Silva and numerous faculty members worked with Harwood throughout the application process — by writing letters of recommendation and conducting mock interviews.

"When I embarked on this journey, it took a lot of soul-searching to solidify my vision and study plans. I am grateful for the encouragement I received when I said 'Hey, I'm going to try this big, crazy, exciting thing and see where it takes me!' I'm so proud to be a Katie and a Marshall scholar," says Harwood.

The Marshall Scholarship will fully fund Harwood as she pursues both a Master's of Arts (M.A.) in History and Cultures at King's College in London, and a M.A. in Archives and Records Management at University College, London.

Preserving a more inclusive history

Harwood plans to work as an archivist, with a goal of providing more people with access to history. The growing field of digital archives caught her eye, and she’s impressed by the work of larger institutions like the Smithsonian. But Harwood also sees where smaller organizations struggle to preserve historical documents, and hopes to forge collaborations to address the challenge.

“I’m certainly not the first person to think of this. There’s already great work being done in the digital archive field. But I think there’s a lot more work to be done and I’m interested in seeing how I can contribute,” she says.

More importantly, Harwood considers archive work a matter of social justice. She aims to ensure that the history captured in archives is more representative of a wider range of voices and experiences.

“You must approach this work with a critical eye. Who’s not being represented here? What voices aren’t being heard? What’s missing?” she explains.

Cultural inclusiveness in archival displays or exhibits doesn't go far enough, Harwood argues.

"That's a one-time thing that can easily be improved. But when none of the materials in an archive are told from a women’s perspective, or there are no materials or letters from people of color, or from rural workers, or from other communities? That is a systemic issue," she explains. “We are not bothering to preserve or collect the records and materials from entire groups of people.”

As an archivist, Harwood is committed to changing this trend.

“History is not just on the page. It’s relevant and matters in the lives of people today. I want to help researchers, and people who are learning about history, get there — to where they see themselves in the history and not feel excluded.”

But in the meantime, with the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she has more to learn.

About the Marshall Scholarships

Founded by a 1953 Act of Parliament, and named in honor of US Secretary of State George C Marshall, the Marshall Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan and express the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts. As future leaders, with a lasting understanding of British society, Marshall Scholars will strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. Up to forty scholars are selected each year to pursue a graduate degree at an UK institution in any field of study.

By Sharon Rolenc