Chicago, Stanford Lead With Three Rhodes Scholars


Chicago, Stanford Lead With Three Rhodes Scholars (Update3)

By Matthew Keenan

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Three students each from the University of Chicago and Stanford University, near Palo Alto, California, were among 32 U.S. Rhodes scholars named to study at the University of Oxford in England.

The scholarship recipients were chosen from 764 applicants attending 294 colleges and universities, according to a statement today by the Oxford Trust in Vienna, Virginia. The trust oversees the awards, established in the 1902 will of British diamond miner and colonialist Cecil Rhodes. The scholarships cover tuition, fees and transportation, and are worth $40,000 to $60,000 a year.

The scholars, selected on the basis of character, academic achievement and leadership potential, will join such past Rhodes selections as former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter and Louisiana Governor-elect Bobby Jindal. The selectors seek students who might excel in the arts, sciences or academia, or as heads of businesses or nonprofit groups, said Elliot Gerson, secretary for the trust in the U.S.

``We are looking for people who are going to be leaders, and leaders broadly defined,'' Gerson said in an interview before the announcement. Gerson, 55, a Rhodes scholar in the 1970s, is executive vice president of the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit leadership organization based in Washington.

Rhodes Scholar Schools

Schools with two scholarship winners are: Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Princeton University in New Jersey; Columbia University in New York; the University of Georgia in Athens, and St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. A scholar was selected from each of the major service academies, the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Ivy League schools have long dominated the Rhodes competition in the U.S. Before today's announcement, Harvard had the highest total of Rhodes scholars, with 319, while Yale had 215 and Princeton had 187.

Last year, Harvard accounted for six of the scholars and Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, had four. Yale had one this year.

Ishanaa Rambachan, 20, the chairwoman of the student senate at St. Olaf College, plans to study women's political and economic empowerment. The Apple Valley, Minnesota, native has studied and worked in Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and India.

St. Olaf Scholar

The daughter of Trinidadian immigrants, she has written about discrimination against the Hindu diaspora and on the Indian caste system. After her studies at Oxford, Rambachan plans to work in development for a U.S. or United Nations aid agency or for the World Bank.

``It puts me in a position to do good work,'' Rambachan said of the scholarship in a telephone interview. ``I can now help the most people as much as possible.''

Blaine Moore, 21, of the Naval Academy, plans to attend medical school after studying in England. The Cordova, Tennessee, resident said his first spark of interest in Oxford came when he was a youngster and his father, an attorney, talked about Clinton's having been a Rhodes scholar.

``When you're little and he's the president, it makes an impression,'' Moore said. Even with the encouragement and academic and physical preparation at the academy, the scholarship is ``a total shock. You never expect to get this.''

Organic Chemistry

A chemistry major and marathoner, Moore has been conducting research on the improved synthesis of a class of organic chemicals with antimicrobial and tumor-killing capacities. He ranks first in his class at the academy.

The Air Force Academy's Hila Levy, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, is the first island resident to win the award. Under the Rhodes rules, since Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth rather than a state, its residents must compete in the states in which they attend college.

A biology major, Levy is fluent in Italian, Portuguese and Hebrew, and minors in Arabic, French and Spanish. Also first- ranked in her class, she has written on language in the military and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and researched Dengue hemorrhagic fever in Venezuela. She plans to study global health.

Winners were selected this year from schools including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge; Georgetown University in Washington, and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

The students selected will enter Oxford in October 2008. Rhodes scholars typically study for two years for a second bachelor's degree or a master's degree.

There have been 3,142 U.S. Rhodes scholars, representing 307 schools, since the first awards were distributed in 1904. About 85 scholars are selected in all, including from nations such as Australia, Canada, Germany, India and Zimbabwe, formerly named Rhodesia in Rhodes's honor.

Rhodes candidates must be endorsed by the colleges or universities they attend. The selection committees in 16 districts yesterday interviewed a total of 209 candidates. With the exception of the chairmen, the regional boards are comprised of past Rhodes scholars.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Keenan in Boston at .

Last Updated: November 18, 2007 16:45 EST