Reid Lidow, a senior majoring in international relations and political science, received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship this past week, which grants him a full scholarship at the University of Cambridge starting this fall.
A total of 40 scholars were chosen from 800 U.S. applicants. The scholarship program’s goal is to support leaders who are committed to “improving the lives of others,” according to Lidow.
Lidow is the second Trojan to receive this award. A Dornsife College of Arts, Letters and Sciences student, Lidow is currently participating in the Teaching International Relations Program at USC and has been a volunteer teacher in the program since his freshman year.
Lidow said students are fortunate not just because of academic programs, but also because of the many opportunities to make an impact on and off campus.
“Here at USC, we are not blind to the fact that the community surrounding USC is — socioeconomically — a little bit down on its heels,” Lidow said. “We don’t live in a bubble. TIRP is a great way to make a difference in the community surrounding USC.”
Steven Lamy, professor of international relations, initially introduced this program to Lidow. Lamy remembers him as one of the students completing all of the assignments and attending all class sessions.
“When you see a student who takes his education very seriously, it’s important to work with those students and help them to develop as scholars,” Lamy said. “We are looking for students sitting in [the] first few rows that’s really interested in subject matter. These students ask great questions and are not overly concerned about grades. They are more concerned about learning and understanding.”
Lidow has been Professor Lamy’s research assistant for three years.
In 2012, Lidow went on an independent research trip to Burma to answer the question, “Why is Burma opening up to the world?” His senior thesis explored both the external and internal factors that motivated Burma’s reforms.
“Burma today is cut from the Tale of Two Cities image — it’s the best of times and the worst of times,” Lidow said. “Right now in Burma, there are people who never had it better, who are feeling the reforms and benefiting considerably. And there are some people who never had worse — some of the ethnic minorities.”
Professor Lamy emphasized the importance of participating in global action, and how having a mentor can help.
“What students need to do is find a faculty member who you can identify with; that can not only help answer questions, but also point out the opportunities,” Lamy said.
Lidow believes undergraduate research should arise naturally and not be forced.
“If you want to do an independent research [project], that requires a lot of patience,’ Lidow said. “I recommend waiting for that ‘Aha!’ moment.”
Lidow emphasized the importance of continuously asking questions when conducting academic research.
“I think the most important thing is to be curious,” Lidow said. “Those questions then usually lead to someone seeking to conduct their own research — And there is always a research channel or road you can take.”