West Lafayette grad lands Rhodes scholarship

Mikel Livingston
Journal 'Courier
West Lafayette, Indiana

A West Lafayette native who is among the latest batch of Rhodes Scholars said Monday the news is still sinking in.

It was announced Sunday that Mohit Agrawal, a 2007 graduate of West Lafayette High School, is among 32 college students in the nation to be awarded the prestigious scholarship that comes with full financial backing for scholars to pursue degrees at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Although Agrawal, a long-rising academic star, is no stranger to distinguished scholarships, he said the honor is one he's still trying to digest.

"It didn't start to sink in until just yesterday," Agrawal said Monday. "It's all a blur. It didn't make any sense at that point."

The 32 scholars were chosen from 830 applicants endorsed by 299 colleges and universities.

Less than one day removed from the Sunday announcement, Agrawal, 22, was back in Galway, Ireland, where he's spending a year at the National University of Ireland funded by the Mitchell Scholarship, which Agrawal won last year.

It's that same scholarship that forced him to decline a final interview for the Rhodes Scholarship in 2010. The interview times for both scholarships conflicted, and Agrawal decided to pursue the Mitchell instead. This year, when offered the chance to again compete for the Rhodes, he couldn't pass it up.

The 2011 Princeton graduate flew to Indianapolis for a reception for the candidates that took place Friday. Interviews took place Saturday, followed by a second interview and then the big news.

"At 5:30 he called and said, 'Guess what? I won it,' " said Suresh Chand, Agrawal's father. "I said, 'What?' "

After that, it was home to pack and catch the red-eye flight back to Ireland where Agrawal is working on his master's degree in economic policy evaluation.

In the past day, Agrawal has fielded a number of emails and calls from teachers or colleagues and a congratulatory voicemail left for him by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, a former Rhodes Scholar, who Agrawal met in 2010.

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