Kiera Peltz will join 35 other U.S. scholars at the University of Cambridge, where they will pursue graduate degrees as they work toward careers focused on improving the lives of others.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Kiera Peltz, a political science and happiness concentrator who graduated from Brown University in May 2016, is among 36 young scholars selected to be part of the 2017 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge.

The prestigious postgraduate scholarship program — which fully funds postgraduate study and research in any academic discipline at the esteemed British university — was established through a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.

As an undergraduate at Brown, Peltz developed an independent major in happiness, which spanned eight fields of study and explored the individual and societal nature of happiness. While also pursuing a second major in political science, she examined the politics of happiness, culminating in an honors senior thesis, which analyzed why the current policy-making process in the United States does not make people happier.

At the University of Cambridge, Peltz will pursue a master’s of philosophy in political and economic sociology.

“I hope to deepen my understanding of how political and economic institutions impact societal well-being,” Peltz said in a profile on the Gates Cambridge website. “Specifically, I will explore how political and economic institutions exacerbate or minimize status inequality, a key determinant of happiness inequality. By rooting happiness in a sociological context, and thus studying the structural nature of happiness, I hope to leave Cambridge with a more robust understanding of how we can make our environment conducive to the pursuit of happiness.”

The Gates Cambridge scholarship’s mission is to create a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others. In addition to seeking students with outstanding academic achievements, the program selects scholars based on leadership.

In 2017, approximately 800 candidates from the United States applied for the scholarship; 200 of these were nominated by their prospective departments in Cambridge, and 97 were put forward for interview by shortlisting committees and then interviewed in Washington by panels of scholars from the United Kingdom and the United States.

The 36 U.S. scholars-elect will join 54 scholars from other parts of the world. The Class of 2017 will join current Gates Cambridge Scholars in October to form a community of approximately 220 scholars in residence at the University of Cambridge.