Former South Cobb student named ’15 Rhodes scholar

Philip Clements
Marietta Daily Journal

South Cobb High School graduate Ridwan Hassen said he doesn’t feel special, even after being named a Rhodes scholar.

The Rhodes scholarship is among the oldest and most well-known academic awards available to American college students. It pays for two to three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

“The main reason why I applied to this scholarship was to show other people that anyone can be a Rhodes scholar,” he said. “It feels amazing. It still doesn’t feel real; it hasn’t hit me yet.”

One of only 32 recipients of the honor for the upcoming year, the Dartmouth College senior had nothing but good things to say about his three years at South Cobb High, where he graduated a year early. In particular, he thanked his statistics teacher, Victor Burrell, who he said is a mentor. 

Hassen said Burrell even wrote him a letter of recommendation for the Rhodes application. 

“Throughout this whole process, he’s helped me a lot,” Hassen said.

Hassen emphasized he doesn’t feel necessarily smarter or more special than his peers. He said his message to South Cobb students is they can do it, too.

“I want everyone at South Cobb to know they can do anything. If I can do it, they can do it,” he said. “I honestly and truly believe that. People at South Cobb always motivated me. The students there are brilliant and they have so much potential.”

The principal of South Cobb, Ashley Hosey, said he couldn’t be more proud of Hassen and his accomplishment.

“It’s like he won an Olympic medal or just got an Oscar. It’s the Heisman Trophy of academics. We’re proud to have been a part of his life at any point,” Hosey said. “We’ve all been very excited, sending emails and texts back and forth.”

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