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Emory alumna Eva Rothenberg selected as 2024 Marshall Scholar
Emory alumna Eva Rothenberg

Emory alumna Eva Rothenberg, a 2021 honors graduate in English and linguistics, has been selected for the 2024 Marshall Scholarship. The competitive award covers up to three years of graduate study in the U.K.

Recent Emory University graduate Eva Rothenberg has been selected for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which funds up to three years of graduate study in the United Kingdom.

Rothenberg, who graduated in 2021 with highest honors from Emory College of Arts and Sciences with degrees in English and linguistics, is among 51 Americans selected for the highly competitive award funded by the British government. She is Emory’s 19th Marshall Scholar.

“Just two years after graduating, Eva has made impressive contributions as a journalist,” says Emory President Gregory L. Fenves. “This is what we love to see at Emory — our graduates launching into careers with purpose and ambition. With the Marshall Scholarship, Eva will reach even higher, deepening her expertise in linguistics while adding a visionary new chapter to her life and career.” 

Rothenberg plans to study applied linguistics at the University of Birmingham. The university is a pioneer in corpus linguistics, the computer-based methodology that examines language qualitatively and quantitatively.

Now working as a business reporter at CNN in New York, Rothenberg wants her academic work to weave together digital humanities and public scholarship.

“I see journalism and academia as complementary tools for public education,” she says. “I want to engage in conversations about structural problems and societal issues from different perspectives.”

Rothenberg discovered ways that language informs our worldview — and vice versa — in a linguistics course her first semester at Oxford College, home of the original Emory campus about 30 miles east of Atlanta.

Emory students who start at the Oxford campus complete their first two years of study there before continuing their education on the Atlanta campus. 

She began applying linguistic frameworks to an English course on John Milton. That ability to connect the two disciplines helped her write clearly when breaking down the author’s complex ideas, says Oxford English professor Sarah Higinbotham.

That spring, Rothenberg deepened those skills in a sociolinguistics course, where she learned that she could use corpus-based methods to enrich her literary analysis. She was so intrigued that she tackled her own project, a computational analysis of British poetry before and after World War I to identify broad social and cultural changes.

Rothenberg presented her findings at the International Corpus Linguistics Conference in 2019 in Wales. The audience had no idea she was an undergraduate, says Jack Hardy, the Oxford linguist who taught Rothenberg’s first course.

“Eva was so prepared and presented so well, people were coming up to her asking about where she was an instructor,” Hardy says. “When she said she was a student, they thought it was her dissertation. She is a once-in-a-lifetime student.”

When Rothenberg arrived at Emory’s Atlanta campus her junior year, she developed her interest in storytelling by co-hosting a weekly radio show on WMRE — Emory University’s student-run radio station — analyzing sociopolitical issues through film. She also tutored at Emory’s Writing Center, having been a tutor at Oxford’s center since her first year.

That was her only semester in Atlanta. She was studying abroad at Charles University in Prague when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, sending her back to her native New York to complete college remotely.

Ever industrious, she turned the experience into an honors thesis that examined the rhetoric universities used in announcing their re-opening plans for fall 2020.

Rothenberg also used the time to secure journalism internships to sharpen her skills, working first at Georgia Public Broadcasting public radio and then at CNN.

“I knew that I enjoyed writing and talking to people and hearing their stories,” she says. “And from a meta-perspective, I found it interesting to be a part of organizations that people rely on to understand issues that impact their lives.” 

Immediately after graduating, she worked for two years in CNN’s editorial research department in Atlanta, fact-checking and guaranteeing the editorial integrity of some of the network’s most sensitive stories.

The position gave her a new appreciation for how language impacts story framing and, consequently, the ways audiences perceive and interact with the world around them. Being in Atlanta also let her maintain connections to Emory, particularly Oxford.

Rothenberg used a vacation day last spring, just before her promotion to the New York position, to join a daylong reading of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” on the Oxford campus, Higinbotham says.

“To take a day off just to help read 10,000 lines of a 350-year old poem aloud and engage with students speaks to Eva’s intellectual curiosity and authenticity,” Higinbotham says. “She has a vision of linguistics and literature that can help us speak to broader audiences, and she’s putting it into practice.”

Rothenberg cites Emory’s emphasis on undergraduate research and the liberal arts, especially Oxford’s supportive environment, as helping her carve her path.

“Oxford was just phenomenal in fostering cross-disciplinary connections and demonstrating how the liberal arts can help us understand and address real-world issues.”

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