Blog: 7 Haikus: From Application to Rejection of a Selection of Marshall Scholars, by David Wagner (’17)

Like many of the other scholars in my Marshall class, I had a change of heart about what academic programme I wanted to pursue in my second year of study in the United Kingdom. Though my desired focus for my second year was conflict and security rather than pure international relations, I sent an application to the Cambridge International Relations and Politics MPhil programme. I have very little tangible IR background and so I was, rather unsurprisingly, rejected by the admissions panel for the course. I haven’t failed academically very often in my life, so this came as a mild punch to the gut and  a healthy reminder of my imperfection, and lack of qualifications, when it comes to disciplines outside my knowledge base. It also got me thinking: how many other Marshall scholars have been rejected from courses or had their various applications to schools and scholarship programs denied?

Devika Ranjan (Marshall ’17) and I decided that assembling failed application essays and letters of rejection would offer us an interesting artistic opportunity: constructing poetry from the words and phrases that led to, and ultimately spelled out our failures. Below is the first of these, written by 2nd Lieutenant David Wagner (Marshall ’17), from applications and rejections of 6 different 2017 scholars.


Early exposure:

it enriched my perspective.




Broaden the discourse;


methods of inqu’ry.


An unknown system:

use observable data.

Brain, no exception.


The vote: important.

Reinvigorate US

democracy now.


Thousands of students.

Competition is intense.

Disappointing news.


We are sorry but

the faculty committee

did not select you.


Thank you for sending

your application to us.

But no place for you.


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