PERRY -- Matt Sellers is greeted like a celebrity as he walks through the halls of Perry High School.
Only a few years removed from the school, the 2008 Perry High graduate is met with shouts of “Congratulations!” from former teachers and faculty during a midday visit while he’s home for the holidays.
“When he was a ninth-grader, we all knew who the star student would be,” said Angela Heath, Perry High’s gifted education teacher who taught Sellers in her English classes for two years. “It’s just delightful to see Matt walk in the fullness of the potential that we all knew he had.”
Today, Sellers is preparing to join an elite group as he was awarded a Marshall Scholarship to attend graduate school in the United Kingdom.
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U.S. citizens who earned a degree from an accredited U.S. college or university with a minimum 3.7 grade-point average are eligible for the scholarship. Even then, only 36 students in the U.S. were selected from the more than 1,000 who applied.
Sellers, a University of Georgia honors student, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in history. He will then attend the University of Oxford to pursue a master of studies program in modern literature and a Ph.D. program in English language and literature.
The scholarship funds up to three years of graduate school, as well as living expenses and fares to and from the U.S.
“It’s just such an overwhelming opportunity,” Sellers said. “It’s amazing to contemplate.”
Sellers studied abroad at Oxford in 2010, and has already received e-mails from folks excited to have him back. He also taught English and math at a primary school in Tanzania during his time at UGA.
“It was nice to know that the university was kind of a gateway to the world, but I still was close to home,” Sellers said.
Sellers’ mom, Andrea Sellers, is already making plans to visit her son once he makes the move.
She too is no stranger to England, as she graduated from a Department of Defense school while her parents were stationed there in the military.
Sellers said he is excited to join his fellow classmates, who have different concentrations and interests but share a global outlook.
“The more I studied, the more I understood the importance of literacy and its role in empowering voices around the world,” he said. “This is about fostering global understanding.”
The Marshall Scholarship was established in 1953 to show gratitude to the United States for assistance the U.K. received after World War II under the Marshall Plan.
“As future leaders, with a lasting understanding of British society, Marshall Scholars strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions,” reads the mission statement of the Marshall Commission. “Marshall Scholars are talented, independent and wide-ranging, and their time as Scholars enhances their intellectual and personal growth. Their direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programmes contributes to their ultimate personal success.”
To contact writer Caryn Grant, call 256-9751.