Two Stanford students win Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Feb. 11, 2015, 9:52 p.m.

Geo Saba ’15 and Karen Hong M.D. ’16 have been named Gates Cambridge Scholars for 2015.

Saba is a senior majoring in political science with a focus on international relations and with honors in international security studies. He is currently writing an honors thesis through the Center for International Security and Cooperation on the U.S. National Security Advisor and the position’s role in the president’s decision-making.

At Cambridge, Saba will spend a year pursuing an M.Phil. in international relations and politics. He plans to focus his research on decision-making, specifically presidential decision-making and decisions made by prime ministers. In 2010, the U.K. created a National Security Advisor position, and Saba hopes to research how the newly created role is shaping decision-making by the prime minister on foreign policy.

For the past three years, Saba has been a first baseman and designated hitter for the varsity baseball team. He has been a tutor and mentor for high school students in East Palo Alto. Saba is also a current research assistant for Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

Saba has been involved in government, interning at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office in the summer of 2013. During his junior year, Saba traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the Stanford in Washington program, where he interned at the Office of Management and Administration.

While there, he said, “[President] Obama told the interns to focus on what you want to do, not on who you want to be. What I want to do is improve the lives of others.”

This humanitarian spirit is what Karen Hong also spoke of when she described her motivations in applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Hong is a third-year Stanford Medical School student who earned a B.A. in public health at Johns Hopkins University ’11.

She became interested in ophthalmology during her first year of medical school when a friend mentioned that when she was younger, she was almost put in special education classes until it was discovered she just needed a pair of glasses.

Hong is involved with the nonprofit Prevent Blindness Northern California, for which she provides eye screening services to preschoolers in the Bay Area. In the summer of 2013, Hong traveled to Hong Kong, where she conducted a clinical research study on normal-tension glaucoma. Hong believes that being involved in her community is very important and sees the Gates Cambridge Scholarship as a natural continuation of her desire to take on projects that encompass larger communities. While at Cambridge, she plans to pursue a M.Phil. in public health.

Hong says that she wanted to apply to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship because it brings together people she wouldn’t have met otherwise.

“I’ll get to cross-pollinate ideas with people from different fields,” she said.

This community of scholars from many disciplines also appeals to Saba.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the other Gates Scholars,” he said. “The mission of the Gates program is to improve the lives of others, and I come at it from a political-science perspective, but the Gates program in Cambridge is interdisciplinary, so I’ll be meeting scientists, doctors, economists, artists, who all have the same vision of improving the lives of others. Seeing how they are talking [about] big issues is something that I’m really looking forward to.”


Contact Maya Balakrishnan at mayanb ‘at’

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