Seventeen American Women Awarded Rhodes Scholarships

Rhodes ScholarshipsRecently, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 American winners of Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study at Oxford University in England. Being named a Rhodes Scholar is considered among the highest honors that can be won by a U.S. college student.

The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, an industrialist who made a vast fortune in colonial Africa. According to the will of Rhodes, applicants must have “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.”

This year, about 2,500 students applied to be Rhodes Scholars. More than 880 students were endorsed by 311 college or university for consideration for a Rhodes Scholarship. Some 230 applicants were named finalists. Then, two Rhodes Scholars were selected from each of 16 districts across the United States. Students may apply from either the district where they reside or the district where they attend college. The 32 American Rhodes Scholars will join 63 students from 18 other jurisdictions around the world as Rhodes Scholars. The Rhodes Trust pays all tuition and fees for scholarship winners to study at Oxford. A stipend for living and travel expenses is also provided.

Women were first included in Rhodes Scholarships in 1976. Since that time 531 American women have won Rhodes Scholarships. There have been only five times, including this year, when women outnumbered men among the American Rhodes Scholars selected in that particular year. The last time was in 2011.

Here are brief biographies of the 17 women who were awarded Rhodes Scholarships this year.

2016 Rhodes Scholarships

Hannah K. Carrese, Laura A. Courchesne, Alexis A. Doyle, Lucinda M. Ford, Aryn A. Frazier, and Shegufta A. Huma

Hannah K. Carrese graduated from Yale University earlier this year with a bachelor’s degree in the humanities. She is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since graduation, she has been working in Mexico helping to settle Central American refugees. Her plans include studying for a master’s degree in politics at Oxford.

Laura A. Courchesne, from Fair Haven, New Jersey, is a senior at the University of Georgia. She is a double major in economics and religion and has received straight As throughout her college career. Courchesne has worked as an intern for the International Red Cross and the Carter Center in Atlanta. She will pursue master’s degrees in social anthropology and politics at Oxford.

Alexis A. Doyle is a senior at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. A resident of Los Altos, California, Doyle is double majoring in biological sciences and international peace studies. She studied abroad in Guatemala working on the prevention of parasitic infections. She is planning on a obtaining a master’ degree in comparative social policy at Oxford.

Lucinda M. Ford is a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. She is majoring in ocean engineering. While at the Naval Academy, she has studied abroad in Singapore and Rwanda. When she is assigned to active duty in the Navy, Ford will serve on a submarine. At Oxford, Ford will study for a master’s degree in nature, society, and environmental governance.

Aryn A. Frazier is a senior at the University of Virginia, where she is double majoring in politics and African American and African studies. Frazier is president of the Black Student Alliance at the university. Frazier, a resident of Laurel, Maryland, plans to study for a master’s degree in comparative politics at Oxford.

Shegufta A. Huma is an immigrant from Bangladesh. She is a senior at the University of Kansas, where she is majoring in political science. Huma has served as vice president of the University Senate and president of the Muslim Student Association. She is fluent or proficient in six languages. Huma will pursue master’s degrees in public policy and refugee and forced migration studies at Oxford.

2016 Rhodes Scholarships

Lauren C. Jackson, Olivia A. Klevorn, Nancy Ko, Pema M. McLaughlin, Nicole A. Mihelson, and Morgan K. Mohr

Lauren C. Jackson, from Little Rock, Arkansas, is a senior at the University of Virginia. Jackson is majoring in political and social thought. She has worked for CNN, National Geographic, and the United Nations. She has received a grant to study post-traumatic stress syndrome in Rwanda. Jackson plans to earn master’s degrees in global governance and diplomacy and refugee and forced migration studies.

Olivia A. Klevorn is a senior at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. A native of Chicago, Klevorn is majoring in anthropology. At Yale, Klevorn is the director of the Heritage Theatre Ensemble and president of a student-run poetry association. She will study for a Ph.D. in socio-legal studies at Oxford.

Nancy Ko, from New York City, is a senior at Harvard University. The daughter of Korean immigrants, Ko is majoring in history and Near Eastern languages and civilizations. She is proficient in Hebrew, Arabic, and four other languages. She is a marathon runner and the senior editor of the Harvard Undergraduate History Review. Ko will work on a master’s degree in modern Middle Eastern Studies while a Rhodes Scholar.

Pema M. McLaughlin is a 2016 graduate of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she majored in religion. She is proficient in Chinese and Tibetan. Her undergraduate thesis concerned whether traditional Buddhist ritual and doctrine can serve the needs of modern Americans. She will study for a master’s degree in Buddhist studies as a Rhodes Scholar.

Nicole A. Mihelson from Fullerton, California, is graduating from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore this month with a degree in neuroscience. Her research has focused on brain tumors and she is also interested in maternal mental health and child nutrition. She is proficient in French, Hebrew, and Spanish. At Oxford, Mihelson plans to study for a Ph.D. in oncology.

Morgan K. Mohr is a senior at Indiana University in Bloomington. A history and political science major, she has worked on political campaigns since the age of 6. She has interned with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of the First Lady at the White House. As a Rhodes Scholar, Mohr will study for a master’s degree in comparative social policy.

2016 Rhodes Scholarships

Meghan M. Shea, Maia Silber, Mikaila V. Smith, Sarah A. Waltcher, and Christa Grace Watkins

Meghan M. Shea is a senior at Stanford University in California. A resident of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Shea is majoring in environmental studies engineering. Her research is focused on biological oceanography. At Stanford, Shea plays in the university steel drumming ensemble. At Oxford, Shea will pursue a master’s degree in nature, society, and environmental governance.

Maia Silber is a senior at Harvard University, where she is majoring in history and literature. At Harvard, she is chair of the magazine of the Harvard Crimson. Also, she has published more than a dozen articles on drug addiction in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Silber will study for a master’s degree in British and European history at Oxford.

Mikaila V. Smith is graduating this month from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management as well as Chinese. She has studied abroad in Australia and China. A certified yoga instructor, Smith will pursue master’s degrees in refugee and forced migration studies and global governance and diplomacy.

Sarah A. Waltcher, from New York City is a 2016 graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she majored in English. She is working as a teaching assistant in a sixth grade science class at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School in New York. Waltcher plans to earn a degree in English as a Rhodes Scholar.

Christa Grace Watkins is from Milroy, Indiana, and is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Watkins is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Watkins also won a Truman Scholarship. She was worked with a nonprofit group that is building a secondary school in South Sudan. At Oxford, Watkins, will pursue a Ph.D. in socio-legal studies.

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