Baylor Graduate Named 2001 Marshall Scholar

December 18, 2000

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Baylor University graduate Cinnamon P. Gilbreath, now a third-year law student at the University of California-Berkeley, has been chosen as a 2001 Marshall Scholar, one of the highest undergraduate accolades given to American college students.
The announcement was made today (Dec. 18) by British ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer.
Great Britain established the Marshall Scholarship in 1953 in gratitude for U.S. assistance after World War II under the Marshall Plan. The scholarships, financed by the British government and worth approximately $50,000 over two years, provide an opportunity for American students, who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership potential, to continue their studies for two or three years at a British university. The scholarships cover the scholar's tuition costs, books, travel and living expenses while in the United Kingdom.
"Once again we have selected an exceptional group of American students to study as Marshall Scholars at universities across the United Kingdom," Meyer said. "I am sure they will enjoy their time in the UK and, as they rise to leadership positions in their chosen fields, go on to enhance relations between our two countries."
Gilbreath, who will continue her studies in environmental change and management at Oxford University, is one of only two Texans and 40 American students nationwide who have been awarded the 2001 scholarship. Thirty-four colleges and universities are represented in 2001, including Baylor, Harvard, Princeton, MIT and Northwestern, as well as fellow Big 12 universities Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.
More than a thousand Americans have been awarded a Marshall Scholarship, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman and scientist/inventor Ray Dolby.
"I'm very honored and very appreciative of my parents, my professors at Baylor and the administrators who encouraged and inspired me every step of the way," said Gilbreath, a University Scholar while at Baylor and the daughter of Dr. Kent Gilbreath, professor of economics, and his wife, Shirley, a part-time lecturer in information systems.
"It is extremely exciting for the University academic community to have one of its own win a Marshall Scholarship because it shows the high quality of the undergraduate education that the best and brightest students receive here at Baylor," said Prof. Elizabeth Vardaman, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Baylor's Marshall Scholarship adviser.
"Committees are looking for students who are making contributions to society," she added. "Baylor students, like Cinnamon, are service-oriented people. They're already making a difference in the world and are committed to scholarship, research and leadership."
During her years at Baylor, Gilbreath was actively involved in several environmental organizations, including the Environmental Concern Organization (ECO), where she concentrated her volunteer efforts on Earth Day and recycling. She also provided environmental education to Central Texas schoolchildren through another Baylor organization called Econnections. Now Gilbreath is editor-in-chief of the prestigious Ecology Law Quarterly, an environmental policy journal published by U.C.-Berkeley's law school.
Kent Gilbreath said the Marshall Scholarship fulfills his daughter's dream of studying at Oxford and pursuing two degrees - a master's degree in environmental management and a graduate degree in international environmental law.
"This opportunity will open doors for her to be of service in the future," said Kent Gilbreath, who also lauded the "team effort" by faculty and administrators who helped his daughter throughout the rigorous, and sometimes tedious, application process.
In addition to her parents, those who were instrumental in Gilbreath's academic life at Baylor and in the Marshall application process include Professor Vardaman; Dr. James W. Vardaman, emeritus professor of history; Dr. Richard B. Riley, professor of political science; Dr. Dudley Burton, professor of environmental studies; Dr. Thomas Hanks, professor of English; and Dr. Bruce Cresson, emeritus professor of religion and recently retired director of the University Scholars Program.
"Cinnamon discovered early on a vibrant interest in the environment and ecology," Cresson said. "She was able to develop a program within the curricular freedom provided in the University Scholars Program at Baylor to pursue those interests in a number of different departments. With vigor she has pursued her goals, doing overseas study in issues related to the environment and continuing her active interest in this as she has gone on to law school where she has also made an excellent record."
James Vardaman was Gilbreath's professor in two English history classes, an area of study in which she distinguished herself.
"She mastered the information, understood the interrelationships and significance, answered the questions and in turn formulated additional conundrums of a highly original variety," he said. "She is wholesome, ebullient and thoroughly winsome. My admiration for her knows no practical boundaries. She will make a noble representation from this country to Britain."
Gilbreath's proven record of academic excellence both at Baylor and at Berkeley illustrates her commitment to environmental and international law, said Dr. Wallace L. Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
"Being named a Marshall Scholar for 2001 allows Cinnamon a chance to complete her preparation to serve as a world advocate on environmental issues," Daniel said.
As she works towards a career in policy development in the international environmental arena, Gilbreath will be studying at Oxford with 30 other students from 15 countries, a "very realistic" representation of environmental views that intrigues her.
"This will give us a wonderful opportunity to learn about each country's goals, why they have chosen that direction and the alternatives that are before them," she said.
Elizabeth Vardaman hopes that Gilbreath's success at attaining such a high honor will encourage other outstanding Baylor students to apply for the many national and international scholarships that are available to them.
"Cinnamon shows that Baylor students can compete successfully for these scholarships, and we always want to encourage excellent students to apply if it fits their needs and dreams," she said.
A web site detailing the scholarships and the application process can be accessed at or by calling Elizabeth Vardaman at (254) 710-3940.