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A beauty with brains

Harvard University grants former Review intern Emily Gustafson a full scholarship
by: Vern Uyetake, Emily Gustafson, a former Review intern, will attend Harvard University in Massachusetts this fall on a full doctoral scholarship. She plans to earn a Ph.D. in Government.

Lake Oswego residents may remember Emily Gustafson from her years at Lake Oswego High School or from the hard-hitting news stories and features she wrote as an intern for the Review.

Now she is pursuing a doctorate in Government at Harvard University - an achievement that offers a glimmer of hope to hundreds of lowly interns.

Gustafson, who worked at the Review during the summer after her freshman year, is bypassing a master's degree to attend Harvard. Not surprisingly, the Ivy is of the best schools in the country for her chosen program.

She received a $36,112 scholarship to Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government as well as an $18,000 stipend to live on while studying in Cambridge, Mass.

'You have access to basically anywhere on campus,' she said.

When she graduated high school in 2002, Gustafson received the Presidential Scholars Program, which chooses up to 141 students each year and is one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

She was accepted into Stanford University and graduating last spring with a bachelor's degree in political science with honors in ethics in society.

And though her accolades and scholarships are definately impressive, it is the graceful manner she carries herself that speaks volumes. Her red hair and fair skin contrast her opaque sunglasses and earrings dangling from her ears. The look gave her a stylish yet naturally progressive northwestern vibe.

'What we lack in Oregon is diversity and California has it,' Gustafson said about her four years at Stanford. '(At Stanford), whites are a plurality.'

Housing in dorms are picked at random in Stanford, and Gustafson was placed in the African-oriented dorm, Ujamaa.

'It was my first experience in a diverse environment,' she said about a dorm whose population was 50 percent African-American.

'Being a part of that community was a blessing,' she said. 'You learn a lot about race relations when you are living it.'

Gustafson became increasingly interested in ethnic relations, eventually writing her 120-page undergraduate thesis, 'A Right to Access Public Space' on the issue of public spaces as being places that ought to be diverse.

The majority of her studies during her schooling were in political philosophy, a concentration she describes as esoteric but certainly not irrelevant.

'It's really asking what government should look like,' she said. 'It is normative and non-descriptive - it's biting off a lot.'

From Hobbes and Socrates to John Locke and Adam Smith, her reading list during her undergrad years gave her a tradition of excellence to challenge herself.

'It is working with others on a topic that has continued for a Millenia… there is something reassuring about being in that tradition,' she said.

And challenging herself further at Harvard to pursue an academic career, Gustafson seems confident to take on the intellectual task of studying government at a school established as a memorial to John F. Kennedy.

'What I find fun about it is that you are creating knowledge from nothing; and while it is extraordinarily difficult thing to do, it's all you,' she said. 'It's brute brain power in some way.'