3 seniors at Harvard, one at MIT snare Rhodes scholarships

Emma R. Stickgold
Boston, MA

Fresh off his football team’s defeat of Yale Saturday, Harvard varsity player Baltazar Zavala switched on his mobile phone and there it was — a six-word text message that brought tears of joy cascading down his mother’s cheeks.

It read: “Congratulations, you are a Rhodes scholar.’’

The Harvard senior, who was born in Juarez, Mexico, and moved to El Paso when he was 4, said it was hard to know which victory carried more weight.

“I looked at my fiancée and I was like ‘Oh my God!’ ’’ he said in a phone interview last night.

While most finalists for the prestigious academic award went through the final interview stage on Saturday, Zavala, known as Zar, interviewed a day early in Houston and jetted back to Cambridge to be there for his team.

“It was one of the most difficult 30 minutes of my life,’’ he said, recalling the grueling questions asked by the panelists. “I walked out completely flustered and thinking this was it.’’

He is one of three Harvard seniors — Zachary Frankel and Daniel E. Lage are the other two — who won a Rhodes scholarship, in addition to Massachusetts Institute of Technology senior Jennifer Lai.

Read more: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/11/22/4_from_area_snare_rhodes_scholarships/