Madeleine Ary Hahne is seeking a doctorate degree as a step to help with climate change and bridge political divides. Lyndie Mitchell Zollinger envisions doubling as a professor and researcher in biomechanics and engineering.
They are now one step closer to those dreams, with Hahne and Zollinger joining Morgan Healy as the three Latter-day Saint women in the United States to receive the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship this year.
Hahne was at home with her husband when the notification email entered her inbox: “I burst out, ‘Oh my gosh, I think I actually got the scholarship!’”
“It was extremely exciting for us,” she continued, adding it was a moonshot she never thought she’d get. After a few prayerful days, she said accepting the scholarship felt like “the right choice.”
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program — established in October 2000 with a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — offers 80 full-cost scholarships to applicants from countries outside the United Kingdom to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any available subject at the University of Cambridge.
“It covers the cost of my flight there, as well as tuition, housing, child care, any expenses related to my academic travels or conferences that I may attend and incidentals,” said Hahne, who is pregnant with her first child.
Zollinger received the email with the scholarship offer while sitting in bed next to her sleeping husband.
“I woke him up screaming because I was really excited,” said Zollinger. She raced downstairs to inform her mom; they were visiting her during a school break. “I was actually glad to be with my mom so that I could tell her in person.”
Zollinger graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in May 2020 and plans to attend Cambridge starting fall 2020.
For Zollinger, it all started the semester after returning home from the Colorado Denver North mission: “I got this impression that I was at MIT to be the mechanical engineer God wanted me to be.”
She felt impressed to apply for one of the study abroad scholarships. While applying for the Rhodes Scholarship, she came across Cambridge’s research, and “it just felt really right.”
Cambridge offers approximately 25 of their 80 full-cost scholarships to U.S. students. Applicants are judged on four criteria — outstanding intellectual ability, reasons for choice of course, a commitment to improving the lives of others and leadership potential.
Hahne, a Brigham Young University graduate who obtained a Cambridge master’s degree in 2016 on partial scholarship, worked for an international development organization focused on improving democratic processes in countries worldwide and interned for President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington D.C.
“I’m deeply committed to having a career where I try to bring people together,” Hahne said, adding her experiences have bridged many political and religious divides. “I hope to help other people have the opportunity to do that as well.”
With engineering, Zollinger said she wants to “use what I’ve learned to help people and improve lives, especially through medical and biomechanics.” She wants to study medical challenges from a mechanical perspective to find potential treatment methods.
Zollinger served on MIT’s Latter-day Saint Student Association’s leadership team and started an interfaith student group to encourage religious discussions. She also worked with the MIT Women’s Technology Program, a program that invites high school girls to MIT and exposes them to the world of engineering.
Zollinger wants to start a similar program at Cambridge: “I think it is really important for girls to know that they are capable of doing these things.”