Ryan Roco, a Truman Scholar and human rights activist, has been awarded the Marshall Scholarship for graduate study at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Roco will graduate from UNM in July 2015 with a B.A. in political science and minors in Asian studies and philosophy. He will pursue a M.Sc. in Asian Politics and an M.A. in South East Asian Studies, with both degrees including advanced Burmese language instruction.

"It's an incredible honor and obligation to be a 2015 Marshall Scholar, and one that I'll steward with great care," Roco said. "It's funny to think that the award only mentions my name because there are so many people who have supported me in getting here—people whom I couldn't have done this without. Just at UNM, I have to thank Kiyoko Simmons, director of the Center for Academic Excellence and Leadership Development, Manuel Montoya, professor at Anderson School of Management and too many to list from the Department of Political Science."

With interests in human security and political violence, Roco has worked extensively in Burma and Thailand amid armed conflict and forced displacement. His research and reportage as an investigator, photographer and filmmaker have been widely published by international news and humanitarian organizations.

Roco feels privileged to have the opportunity to study in the U.K. “I can't imagine a better place to go next than SOAS. I know my time there will help me contribute to peace and conflict research on Burma and greater South East Asia."

Besides studying, Roco is looking forward to volunteering alongside refugees resettled in Britain as well as connecting with policy think tanks and human rights organizations.

Other UNM Marshall Scholarship recipients include Jake Wellman (2013), Robert Ward (2000) and Lorraine Attreed (1977).

The Marshall Scholarship program was established in 1953 by an act of British Parliament in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall as an expression of Britain’s gratitude for economic assistance received through the Marshall Plan after World War II. The program is overseen by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. Approximately 900 students are endorsed annually for the scholarship by their respective universities, for which up to 40 scholarships are awarded nationwide. Competition is extremely rigorous, as it is considered one of the most prestigious international academic awards. In addition to conducting graduate work, Marshall Scholars act as informal ambassadors while studying abroad. 

A selection of Roco's work can be found at ryanroco.com or via Twitter @ryanroco.