Girard grad named Rhodes Scholar

By Andrew D. Brosig
The Morning Sun

Vincent Hofer, a 2004 graduate of Girard High School and 2008 graduate of Kansas State University, was named one of 32 students from across the country to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford in England.

Hofer, of Franklin, became one of two students selected from the local selection district, which includes colleges and universities in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi. The selection process started several months ago with an application to the K-State Rhodes Scholar committee and culminated with personal interviews last weekend in Kansas City, Mo.

Hofer is the eighth K-State student to receive the Rhodes Scholarship since 1986, according to a press release from the college. Hofer graduated in May with a bachelor of science degree in agribusiness.

“It was a very surreal experience,” Hofer said of the interviews. “We were all sitting in a waiting room, playing a board game, when the selection committee walks in. We all froze up, waiting for the results.”

The committee members thanked everyone for applying, then announced the names of the two winners. It took a moment for it to sink in, Hofer said. His name had been called, along with another student from the University of Mississippi.

“I started clapping, like my name hadn't even been called,” Hofer said. “If you'd told me in my freshman year at college I'd be applying for the scholarship, let alone winning it, I'd have said you were crazy.”

Immediately after the announcement, the rest of the students were dismissed and Hofer and his fellow selectee were handed a stack of paperwork. They were also given a bit of cautionary advise from the selection committee members.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Hofer said they were told. “But along with the tremendous honor comes tremendous responsibility.”

In addition to the honors and prestige, the Rhodes Scholarship is worth about $50,000 a year to fund two years of study at Oxford. Hofer will be eligible to apply for a third year of study during his second year.

Hofer said he plans to use his scholarship to pursue master's degrees in Latin American studies and development economics, two fields he's familiar with.

In 2007, Hofer traveled to Honduras, where he worked as a financial analyst for the Inter-American Investment Corporation. IIC promotes private-sector and capital market development in member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through investment and resource leveraging for sustained economic development in the region, according to the groups Web site,

While he was working and studying in Honduras, Hofer saw first hand the impact a lack of progressive economic development has on small farmers. It was a familiar scenario, he said.

“I experienced the ups and downs of agriculture growing up,” Hofer said. “I've seen what happens here, in the United States and even the worst times we have here almost can't be compared to what happens in Latin America.

“I want to focus on helping small, lower-income farmers become larger farmers and have more income. If we can help raise their economic levels, further down the road, they'll be able to trade more and be larger trading partners throughout the world.”

Rhodes Scholarships are administered by the Rhodes Trust, established in 1902 by the estate of Cecil John Rhodes, British-born businessman and South African mining magnate, founder of De Beers, which markets some 40 percent of the worlds diamonds. More than 7,000 Rhodes Scholarships have been given since the first scholarship was awarded in 1904. This year, 80 scholarships were awarded world-wide.

"All of us at K-State are thrilled and overjoyed that Vincent Hofer received a Rhodes scholarship," K-State President Jon Wefald was quoted in the KSU press release. "We are delighted that Vincent will have an opportunity to represent K-State for two years at Oxford University.

“Any time any university can boast of having a Rhodes scholar, it is something very special for that university. Such a win speaks to Vincent's academic abilities and also to the quality of education he received from K-State faculty."

Hofer currently is working as a legislative correspondent in the Washington, D.C., office of Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback. He's the son of Chris and Nancy Hofer of Franklin, and grandson of Mary Ann and the late Dennis Heidrick of Girard and Jim and Loretta Hofer of Walnut.