UMass Amherst Student Benjamin Clemenzi-Allen Awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarship

AMHERST, Mass. – Benjamin Clemenzi-Allen, of Newburyport, Mass., a senior English major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of 46 U.S. students selected to receive a Gates Cambridge Scholarship that funds one year of graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England.

Clemenzi-Allen, who is a member of Commonwealth College, entered UMass Amherst after receiving an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Northern Essex Community College. He is the first UMass Amherst student to receive the award.

In 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a donation to the University of Cambridge of $210 million to establish the Gates Cambridge Trust. This benefaction creates in perpetuity an international scholarship program to enable outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at the University of Cambridge. The trustees are required to award scholarships on the basis of a person’s intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others.

Throughout his undergraduate education, Clemenzi-Allen’s research has focused mainly on experimental 20th-century poetry of the American and Russian traditions. At Cambridge, Clemenzi-Allen intends to complete the American MPhil program, where he will explore how the formal innovations of two modernist American writers—Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein—were influenced by the British and European cultures in which they wrote, while focusing on their contrary but related approaches to poetic language.

At Northern Essex Community College, Clemenzi-Allen tutored and mentored students, played a key role in the research and development of a tutoring center, presented at conferences, volunteered at a local prison and received an Outstanding Student of the Year award.

After transferring to UMass Amherst, he was awarded a scholarship through the University Scholars Program for outstanding community college students. He has since worked as a research assistant for an English department faculty member and received a federal McNair research grant and three writing awards for papers on English literature. His career goals are to enter academia and continue to work to support cross-cultural academic dialogue.

Clemenzi-Allen began working nearly a year ago with UMass Amherst Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) to prepare his application.

“Ben’s academic interests combined with his record of humanitarian service made him an outstanding candidate for this scholarship. The program at Cambridge University is a perfect fit for him, and I expect he will continue to make great contributions in the future,” said Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychology and director of ONSA.

Earlier this month, Clemenzi-Allen was invited to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis for an interview as one of 119 scholarship finalists. The interview with three representatives from Cambridge and a previous scholarship recipient was “tough but friendly,” said Clemenzi-Allen, who said a mock interview arranged by ONSA helped prep him for the meeting.

“It was very helpful,” he added, “and helped me work through my ideas.”

Two days after the interview, Clemenzi-Allen was notified that he’d been awarded the scholarship. “I was very excited,” he said.

He will begin his studies at Cambridge in October.

Clemenzi-Allen joins UMass Amherst senior and Commonwealth College student Kathryn Huston as a recipient of a major scholarship to study in the U.K. In December, Huston became the first student at the Amherst campus in more than 30 years to receive a Marshall Scholarship. She recently received honorable mention for the USA Today All-Academic College Team competition, which names 80 top students in the nation.

Susan Whitbourne, director of the UMass Amherst Office of National Scholarship Advisement, can be reached at 413/545-4306 or