Boston University alumnus Ethan Rubin said he was happy to receive recognition for his work during his time at BU and post-graduation by being awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
Rubin, the third student from BU to win this award since 2001, will be granted the opportunity to study for his master’s degree in education with a thematic route at Cambridge University starting the fall 2013 semester. He graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy.
“I have been paying my dues so I’m glad that I’m getting something like this in recognition of it,” Rubin said. “On the other hand, it’s another chance to work hard.”
He said the students he worked with dropped out because they lacked the proper social skills to go to a mainstream school and he strives to change schools that failed these students.
“I’m really interested in the way that school culture can be formed in a more positive way to help students develop the character and social skills that they need to succeed,” Rubin said. “That’s what I intend to focus on [at Cambridge University].”
The scholarship program, which began in 2001, is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is awarded to 40 American students each year. It covers the full cost of tuition to Cambridge University.
“I applied to this assuming that I didn’t have any chance of getting it,” he said. “I was really surprised when I got the email saying they actually picked me.”
He said after his time at Cambridge, he plans on returning to Boston to teach and perhaps obtain a leadership position in a school to try to implement new methods. He wants to create learning environments so that all students can succeed.
“The program that I’m going into is in educational leadership and school improvement,” Rubin said. “I’ve been working in education for the last couple years and I teach instruction skills and job readiness at a GED and alternative degree school in Cambridge, Mass.”
Philosophy professor Walter Hopp said Rubin is a deserving recipient of the award.
“The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is an extremely prestigious award, and what it recognizes in Ethan is precisely what he possesses: academic brilliance and a commitment to social improvement,” he said in an email.
Hopp said he did an independent study with Rubin during his time at BU. During the independent study, Rubin looked at the nature of individual authenticity and he argued it is best achieved in supportive communities.
“The scholarship recognizes that Ethan is committed to and capable of bringing about such a community within an educational environment,” Hopp said.
He said the scholarship will help propel Rubin’s future.
“I’m sure winning the scholarship will do wonders for Ethan’s career, principally by enabling him to put his original and potentially transformative ideas into practice over the coming years,” Hopp said.
Rubin said he acknowledges the challenges to come but is prepared for what lies ahead.
“They’re sending me to Cambridge with the expectation that I’ll go there and do really well,” he said. “And come out of there with some serious skills so I can contribute to society.”