The Marshall Scholarship program has awarded University of Texas at Austin alumnus Zain Yoonas a two-year scholarship to study modern Middle Eastern studies at the University of Oxford.
Yoonas, who graduated in 2006 with degrees in Plan II Honors and Middle Eastern Studies, is one of 37 scholars from across the nation who earned the honor.
After completing his master's degree at Oxford, Yoonas plans to become a professor and writer, to educate people in the Muslim and Western worlds about Islamic beliefs.
A Pakistani-American originally from Boise, Idaho, Yoonas was president of the Muslim Students Association while a University of Texas at Austin student. He invited noted Muslim scholars to encourage a community dialogue between the East and West. He also organized a "fast-a-thon" to raise money for a local food bank while helping students understand why Muslims fast during Ramadan.
Yoonas' commitment to education was evident both on and off campus. As a student, he prepared science lessons for fourth graders through the university's UTeach Program. After graduation, he worked as a consultant to the Dallas Independent School District.
"Zain is an extraordinarily gifted analytical thinker with remarkable academic strengths," said Associate Professor of History Denise Spellberg, who encouraged Yoonas to enroll in a graduate course during his junior year. "Even among advanced graduate students, he distinguished himself as an articulate, incisive and compelling speaker and writer."
The Marshall Scholarships, established in 1953, provide American students with the opportunity to attend graduate school at a top British university. The British government pays for all expenses.