Difficult journey ends with a Rhodes Scholarship

Peter N. Spencer

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Graniteville resident Zujaja Tauqeer is really, really smart.

Members of the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee already knew that by the time they had selected the 21-year-old Brooklyn College pre-med student as a finalist from the thousands of applications they received around the country.

So when they sat down to interview Ms. Tauqeer two weeks ago, they weren’t really interested in her 3.97 GPA, or the fact that she speaks four languages, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has published studies on the bio-chemistry of autism in medical journals, stemming from her work at the Institute for Basic Research (IBR) in Willowbrook.

They wanted know about her story — so she told them how she and her family escaped religious persecution in Pakistan and moved around the United States before they finally found a home on Staten Island.

Two hours later, Ms. Tauqeer joined an elite group of Americans as a winner of one the most prestigious awards in the world. The Rhodes Scholarship pays for two years of postgraduate study at the University of Oxford in England.

Read more: http://www.silive.com/northshore/index.ssf/2010/12/difficult_journey_ends_with_a.html