SALT LAKE CITY — Mackenzie Simper, a Salt Lake City native and senior in mathematics at the University of Utah, has received the Churchill Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Simper becomes one of only 15 students nationally to receive this award and is the first Churchill scholar for the University of Utah.
“Mackenzie’s receipt of the Churchill Scholarship marks a tremendous milestone for the university,” Ruth Watkins, the U.’s senior vice president for academic affairs, said in a statement. “As our first Churchill scholar, we have no doubt that she will be an excellent representative of our university and state.”
The Churchill Scholarship, established in 1963 at the request of Sir Winston Churchill, provides undergraduates with outstanding academic achievement in the science, technology, engineering and math fields the opportunity to complete a one-year master’s program at Cambridge. Students go through a rigorous endorsement process in order to apply, but only after their home institution has been vetted with the Churchill Foundation. The University of Utah was recently added to the foundation in the spring 2014.
The scholarship has been called “the most academically challenging of the U.K. scholarships.”
Simper initially planned to attend medical school, which prompted her decision to double major in math and biology at Salt Lake Community College. She soon realized, though, that math was a spectacular field with many applications and areas to explore. When she transferred to the U. in fall 2014, she knew that math was the subject she wanted to pursue.
“Math is so much fun,” she said. “My research has allowed me to work on problems that truly interest me, and has shown me the connections between different areas of math. Any student who is excited by math should try doing research, because it is a chance to experience math in a completely different way than in the classroom,” said Simper.