The Bobby Jones experience

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Illustration: Sibilla Grenon

Meet the “Bobbies,” a wide-reaching community of scholars and fellows who swap St Andrews for Atlanta and vice versa in order to further their intellectual journeys, represent their undergraduate institutions and immerse themselves in novel cultural and academic environments. In doing so they make life-long memories, form friendships and have adventures they might have only dreamed about before embarking on the Bobby Jones journey.

The Bobby Jones Program is one of a kind. Supported by the Robert T Jones Memorial Trust, the Bobby Jones Scholarship and Fellowship has opened the doors to a rich exchange between Emory University and the University of St Andrews. The program was established to honor the late Robert T Jones, a world-renowned golfer and a man of great character. A model of scholarship, integrity and sportsmanship, Bobby Jones obtained his law degree from Emory University School of Law and was also named a Freeman of the City of St Andrews for his outstanding contributions to the community as well as to honor his golfing achievements.

His love of both Emory and St Andrews is what inspired the inception of the Bobby Jones Program.

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Each year, four scholars leave St Andrews to go to Emory for a year-long post-graduate program, which allows them to experience a new academic environment and engage in Atlanta’s rich cultural scene. A fellow joins them for a two-year masters degree. St Andrews, in turn, receives four scholars and a fellow as well; all Emory graduates, who spend one year in Scotland. The chosen academics undergo a rigorous selection process, which is meant to identify who, out of the applicants, best represents their respective institutions and embodies the Bobby Jones spirit. Both the scholarship and the fellowship includes full tuition, living and airfare costs, as well as a generous stipend.

Enough of the logistics – I am here, as a Bobby myself, to convince you that applying for the Bobby Jones Scholarship and Fellowship may be the best decision you can make as a final-year student. I have proof. Read along to learn more about the pursuits and adventures of the current Bobbies, who have now been at their host institutions for close to two months. What have they been up to?

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Let us start with this year’s St Andrews to Emory group. Meet Harri Thomas, Campbell Hastings, Jonathan Bertulis-Fernandes and Morag Hossack.

Jonathan explained that getting to know Atlanta has been a great experience for him and the other three scholars. As previously mentioned, the Bobby Jones community is a very tight one. Past scholars are enthusiastic about getting to know current ones, so this year’s crop have had the opportunity to explore the wide variety of restaurants and bars in Atlanta with alumni of the program currently residing in the city. They have also explored the local sports scene, having been to the PGA Tour Championship at East Lake, a Georgia Institute of Technology football game and an Atlanta Braves baseball game.

While Atlanta has much to offer, the four St Andreans have been hitting the road as well. During Labor Day weekend, the group travelled to Savannah and Charleston, and were pleasantly surprised by the architecture and museums they visited. Harri, Morag and Jonathan also spent a weekend volunteering with the American Red Cross and the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham, Alabama, where they were able to lean about health disparities.

Since the Bobby Jones program was developed to allow as much intellectual exploration as possible within a year, the group at Emory has been exploring academic areas which are new to them. Jonathan, who studied international relations and social anthropology at St Andrews, is currently taking African American literature, development economics, international criminal law, German, golf and scuba diving classes. Harri, who previously studied modern history, is also taking an African American literature course in addition to American history, journalism and tai chi. Morag is expanding her knowledge in international studies, her field of study at St Andrews, by taking classes in political science and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She is also learning Spanish and how to play golf. Campbell is furthering his study of management and international relations by studying an MBA course at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. He is also taking an interdisciplinary module and a class in international criminal law at the Emory School of Law.

Besides travelling and coursework, the four scholars keep busy with multiple extracurricular activities. Morag is volunteering with the Catholic Churches of Atlanta, helping refugees and immigrants improve their English language skills, and Harri is working for a non-profit association that supports young survivors of war by teaching them how to play football. He and Jonathan are involved with Campus Kitchens, an student organization which ensures that surplus food from campus outlets does not go to waste and is instead donated to local homeless shelters. Jonathan also serves as the Secretary of the Residence Hall Association at the Clairmont Campus.

Callum Wooley, this year’s fellow from St Andrews, is pursuing a masters in film studies. As Atlanta has a rapidly growing film industry, Callum has already been lucky enough to get parts in a few plays and films around Atlanta in addition to singing for the all-male a cappella group at Emory, No Strings Attached. Although he studied English literature and philosophy at St Andrews, he has worked in the film industry before and says that Atlanta’s creative scene is full of opportunities.

Helena Warrall, the St Andrews to Emory fellow elected in 2014, is currently in the second year of her masters in development practice and loves it.

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Now let’s talk about the group that traveled all the way to this small Scottish town from Southern USA. There’s Nikki Staville, Peter Habib, Kate Cyr, Kadiata Sy and me.

I think it is safe to say that we have also been enjoying our time as Bobbies. St Andrews is a beautiful town, and so are its surroundings. During our time here, we have been keen to get as involved as possible. Nikki and I are runners, so we have been spoiled with the beauty of the running trails in the area. Nikki ran the Bournemouth marathon at the beginning of October, finishing with a great time, and we are all proud of her for it. Kate has joined the women’s rugby team, I joined the basketball team and Peter is the Charities Representative at Deans Court.

We have been taking advantage of our car and the cheap airfare to do some traveling as well. Nikki has travelled to and explored southern England, Kadiata has spent one weekend in the Highlands, Kate visited London and I travelled to Dublin. Peter and Kate were able to meet a former Bobby Jones Scholar, who is currently pursuing a PhD in neuroscience and are now competing with her as part of a team in Race2Budapest. Kadiata and I, along with a friend of ours, will compete against them. Additionally, Kate and I are also fundraising for Childreach International by climbing Kilimanjaro next June.

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I hope this exploration of the Bobby Jones experience has given readers a glimpse into the extensiveness of the programme and has persuaded final-year students that applying for the scholarship and the fellowship is a great investment of personal time. Applications are now open! With less than two months under my belt as a Bobby Jones Fellow, I can confidently say that this experience has changed my life in ways that I would never have expected. I fully recommend it.

To learn more about the Robert T Jones Memorial Trust Scholarship, go to the University’s website.

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