Thomas Higgins (CLA 2017) has received a prestigious $22,000 award from the Foundation of the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia to study abroad in Scotland, making him the 20th Temple student in 21 years to become a St. Andrew’s Society Scholar.
The St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia, founded in 1747 to provide relief to “distressed Scottish immigrants,” established the Foundation in 1958 to foster relations between the United States and Scotland by offering scholarships to high-performing students in our region who wanted to study abroad in Scotland. The organization now provides a $22,000 award to up to five students per year to study abroad during their junior year at one of four universities in Scotland. The amount is comparable to many of the most prestigious national study abroad scholarship competitions.
The scholarship is highly competitive. The Society invites thirty colleges and universities in the Philadelphia region, including Swarthmore, Penn, Princeton, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Penn State, to nominate one candidate annually from the top twenty-five percent of their class. Candidates are then interviewed and evaluated by the Society selection committee.
Higgins was chosen to represent Temple University at this year’s annual competition. According to St. Andrew’s Society Scholarship Committee Vice-Chair Craig Mills, “Mr. Higgins was the consensus Number One applicant, finishing first among a very strong field and thereby having first choice of which of the ‘Four Ancients’ he wished to attend.” The Four Ancients refers to the four participating Scottish universities: The Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St. Andrew’s, founded in 1495, 1583, 1451 and 1413, respectively. Committee Chair Brad Johnson concurred: “Tom Higgins is an outstanding young man who will be a fantastic ambassador for Temple, the Society and America… We at the Society are looking forward to watching his development over the coming year.”
Higgins chose to study at the University of Glasgow because of its rich literary tradition, dating back to its founding in 1451 and its prestigious Scottish Literature program. The scholarship has made it possible for Higgins to further his academic and personal goals. He said, "As a double major in English and Classics, I am drawn not only to language but also to the deeply fascinating histories which enrich each subject. The scholarship I have received will allow me… to focus on what I am passionate about in a completely different context…I hope to return to Temple University with not only a better understanding of my majors and of their respective traditions, but also of myself and the ways in which I perceive the world outside of the United States."
Mike Dever, Director of Operaions in the Education Abroad and Overseas Campuses office (CLA, 92) and himself a St. Andrew’s Scholar (Edinburgh, 1990-91), has been advising Temple students interested in applying for the St. Andrew’s Society scholarships for the past 21 years. He noted that despite the highly competitive nature of the scholarship competition, Temple has one of, if not the best, records of success among the thirty participating institutions. “We take the Society and the competition very seriously, as we know the Society takes what they do seriously. Looking back over the 21 years I have been involved with the Society, they have awarded somewhere in the neighborhood of $310,000 to Temple students and over $1.5 million to students across the region. We are deeply grateful for their generosity and for all the wonderful work they do with and for our students.”