Enduring a yearlong application process, a University student is set to study the laws and politics of the country of lords and queens.
History and political science senior Katie Ballintine was recently accepted to the University of Cambridge through a $23,000 scholarship from the Rotary Foundation she earned last May.
Within an atmosphere of Ivy League-level academics, formal attire and history-steeped traditions, Ballintine, who plays piano and ballroom dances, will have to adjust to life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s going to be a challenge and high-paced, but it will be fun,” Ballintine said.
Politics, history and law have been at the center of Ballintine’s interest for years. While still in high school, she spent six months in Washington, D.C., working at the U.S. House of Representatives as a congressional page. She assisted the House speaker by bringing him water, carrying bills and ringing the bell for the representatives’ decisions.
Since last fall, Ballintine has been working as a teaching assistant for the University Department of Political Science.
“In some way, that’s the biggest thing that has made me want to go to law school,” she said.
In September, Ballintine will pursue a law degree at Cambridge, a three-year program that she is set to complete in two. Although a University senior, Ballintine will start as a freshman undergraduate at Cambridge.
Ballintine has not decided whether she will pursue a doctorate degree in political science or international law when she gets back from England.
Born in South Korea, Katie and her sister Carly were adopted by Robert and Mary Ballintine of Edina, Minn., both University alumni. She went to school in Edina before attending the University.
At the University, Ballintine has made the dean’s list numerous times and has been a recipient of several scholarships. David Good, a University history professor, remembers Ballintine as being incredibly motivated, serious and very active in class.
“All of these qualities will make her time in Cambridge really valuable,” Good said. “She’s the kind of student who makes teaching worthwhile.”
When Ballintine went to Great Britain for an interview last November, she realized that life at Cambridge, a world-famous university attended by some of England’s best students, is considerably different from life at the University. Candle-lit dinners and formal clothes are the norm there, and the method of teaching is different from the United States.
Ballintine’s application for the scholarship was followed by a daylong interview in April 1999. After making the finalists’ list, she was one of three scholars in the Midwest to get the Rotary Ambassadorial scholarship.
The process wasn’t over; she still had to apply to Cambridge.
“The hardest thing (in the application process) was that there were so many levels,” Ballintine said. “They expect you to have a pretty thought-out plan in advance.”
According to a Rotary Club Web site, the purpose of the Ambassadorial Scholarship Program is to further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries. The scholarship, which was established in 1947, has since sent more than 30,000 men and women abroad to study.
“Katie’s worked very hard; we think it’s great that she’s having this opportunity,” said her father. “I know that she’ll do a great job of representing the University and her professors over there.”