bea frissell poses
UM senior and Polson native Beatrix Frissell recently added a prestigious Marshall Scholarship to the long list of academic and athletic accolades she’s garnered during her academic career.

MISSOULA – If academic scholarships came with trophies University of Montana senior Beatrix Frissell would need a case.

Selected as a Truman Scholar, Demmer Scholar, Montana University System Honors Scholar and UM Presidential Leadership Scholar, Frissell recently learned she’s been selected as one of just 40 students out of 951 applicants in the country to receive a 2023 Marshall Scholarship. 

This highly competitive, merit-based scholarship provides funding for graduate study in the U.K. Frissell will spend the next two years studying first at the University of Edinburgh and then King’s College London.

“When I applied, I didn’t really expect to win, so this is a bit of a shock but also very exciting,” said Frissell, who happens to have a fair share of actual medals and trophies as a leader of UM’s cross-country and track and field teams.

Double majoring in political science in UM’s College of Humanities and Sciences and environmental science and sustainability in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, Frissell is passionate about environmental justice and policy. In the U.K. she will continue studying issues surrounding land and water rights and their impacts on local communities. While at the University of Edinburgh, she plans to earn a Master of Science in global environment, politics and society.

“You see many of the same issues in the U.K. as you see in the U.S. and in Montana,” said Frissell, a native of Polson. “In South Wales, for example, there is a mining component to environmental justice just as there is in Montana.”

A member of the Davidson Honors College, Frissell has been active in many campus organizations, completing UM’s Global Leadership Initiative 12-credit certificate program, serving on the Associated Students of UM Elections and Relations and Affairs committees, and participating in UM’s first SEA Change Cohort (Safe, Empowered, Accelerated) to advance gender equity and combat stereotypes.

Between her sophomore and junior year, Frissell completed an internship at the U.S. Department of Interior, working in the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance. She followed that up with an internship between junior and senior year interning for the United State's Forest Service in Lolo National Forest. 

“I have definitely learned a lot about leadership the past few years,” Frissell said. “That includes being willing to speak out about causes you believe in.”

Her mentor Kylla Benes, director of UM’s Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships, has watched Frissell’s passion for her studies and engagement grow, noting that she represents the very best of what it means to be a Griz.

“Bea’s intellectual commitment and drive, not only to succeed, but to make the world a better place is really what we aim to foster at UM,” said Benes. “It’s why Bea has garnered so much recognition throughout her collegiate career.”

In addition to winning the Marshall, Frissell also was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship this fall, and the application for both was particularly harrowing, she added.

“I had my appendix removed 24 hours before I had to submit the Rhodes scholarship, and I still had some editing to do on my personal statement at that point,” she said. “I stayed up late that night and submitted it, but whew, the timing was bad!”

Although it’s early in the process, Frissell has investigated possible modules to take in the U.K – that’s the term for classes, said Frissell, already picking up the lingo – and what she should consider packing for Scottish weather. 

She admits to being a bit nervous about traveling overseas for the first time. But as she knows from her academic and athletic successes, growth only comes from embracing new experiences and challenges.

That includes her summer plans to potentially complete an internship through her Truman Scholarship working for Earth Justice in Washington, D.C.

Frissell ultimately wants to start a nonprofit specializing in environmental issues and politics. A true Montanan, she plans to return to the Big Sky State when her studies are done.

And yes, as she noted when winning the Truman Scholarship last spring, she still might one day run for governor.

“I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes,” Benes said.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the Marshall Scholarships were created by an Act of British Parliament in 1953 as a thank you to former U.S. Secretary of State General George Marshall and the U.S. for assistance under the Marshall Plan. Since that time, the British government has provided scholarships for over 2,200 Americans, many of whom have gone on to play leading roles addressing global challenges facing society.


Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-243-5659,