IU student Esther Uduehi named Rhodes Scholar

IU News Room
Bloomington, IN

Esther Uduehi, a senior at Indiana University Bloomington majoring in chemistry and mathematics, has been named a Rhodes Scholar for 2011. She is one of 32 Americans who have been selected for the prestigious academic award.

Uduehi, of Evansville, Ind., becomes the 16th IU student -- and second in as many years -- to receive a Rhodes Scholarship, which provides all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford In England. (Mutsa Mutembwa of Zimbabwe, who graduated in May, received the 2010 Rhodes Scholarship.)

"Esther is a truly remarkable student and is most deserving of this honor," said IU President Michael McRobbie. "All of us at Indiana University are extremely proud of what she has achieved during her years of study here and are excited for her to continue her academic pursuits at Oxford."

Uduehi, a Herman B Wells Scholar who entered the fall semester with a 3.93 grade point average, was one of three finalists from IU for the award. IU has now had four Rhodes Scholars since 2001.

"It's a great privilege not only to receive the Rhodes Scholarship but also to represent Indiana University," said Uduehi. "As happy as I am that I won the award, I am equally happy that IU had three finalists, who demonstrated the academic excellence and integrity of this university. I'm looking forward to continuing my career at Oxford and expanding on the great educational foundation that I received at IU."

Uduehi added that she was grateful for the support of her teachers and administrators at IU as well as her family. Her parents emigrated from Nigeria in 1988, the year before Uduehi was born, in hopes of providing a better life for Uduehi, her brother, Joshua, and her sister, Elizabeth, who is a junior at IU.

"This scholarship has meant a lot to me and to my family, and we are extremely grateful for all that IU has done for us," she said.

A former valedictorian at F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville, Ind., Uduehi entered IU in 2007 as a recipient of the Wells Scholarship, created in honor of the late IU Chancellor Herman B Wells and one of the most competitive and prestigious awards offered by any U.S. university. That same year she was also named a National Achievement Scholar and a Senator Richard G. Lugar Scholar, and received the Indianapolis Star Minority Achievement Award. This year, she received the Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis Scholarship, named after the former IU chancellor, and the Council on Advancing Student Leadership Top Ten Student Leader Award.

Uduehi is currently the vice president of IU's Board of Aeons, a 12-member student board that conducts research projects for the president's office. This fall, she also began serving as IU's second-ever Presidential Student Intern. As part of her intern responsibilities, she is a member of a new committee, established by McRobbie, that is examining the university's approaches to teaching and learning and their impact on student achievement.

Uduehi is a participant in IU's Science, Technology and Research Scholars (STARS) program, as well as the McNair Scholars program. She has worked in the laboratory of IU chemistry professor Amar Flood since her freshman year.

The Rhodes Scholarship will enable Uduehi to return to Oxford, where she studied as a visiting student in chemistry and biochemistry last fall. That experience followed a summer spent in Russia as a participant in the U.S.-Russia Global Health Care Study Program.

While at IU, Uduehi has co-founded the IU Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) and the IU Photography Society, served as diversity director for the IU Student Association, interned with the IU Premed Summer Experience Program, served as the first student docent at the IU Art Museum, and conducted teaching internships in the departments of Biology and Mathematics.

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