Philly: Five area students named Rhodes scholars

Kristen Graham
Philadelphia, PA

Five area college students are among 32 men and women from American universities who have won the prestigious 2010 Rhodes Scholarships, officials announced Sunday.

Aakash Shah, a graduate of Ursinus College, Matthew Watters, a senior at the University of Delaware, and Andrew Lanham, a graduate of Haverford College, will all study at the University of Oxford in England. Joining them will be Mark Jia, a graduate of Princeton University and Nicholas DiBernadino, a senior at Princeton.

Shah, a native of Cliffside Park, N.J., graduated from Ursinus in May with a degree in inequality studies, biology and neuroscience and is enrolled in Harvard Medical School. At Ursinus, he ran track and worked with the United Students Against Sweatshops in Mexico and studied environmental health problems in the slums of India.

Shah is Ursinus College's first Rhodes Scholar. He plans to earn a degree in comparative social policy at Oxford.

Watters, from Newark, Del., majors in neuroscience and minors in political science. He has worked in hospitals in South Sudan and Haiti and founded a student organization focused on relief work in Haiti. Watters is a nationally competitive mountain biker and will study for a degree in global health science.

Lanham, from Wooster, Ohio, studied English and philosophy at Haverford. He was the captain of the cross-country team, served as the head of the college honor council, and interned with the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Lanham now works as a resident tutor for a nonprofit that aids underprivileged minority students in Lower Merion Schools. He will study English at Oxford.

Jia, a native of China who grew up in Waltham, Mass., currently teaches American politics and constitutional history to aspiring diplomats at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. He was deputy national field director of Students for Obama, interned for the Alliance for Justice and in the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's office. Jia dreams of participating in a constitution-drafting process for democratizing China, and will study politics at Oxford.

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