From Chicago’s Englewood to Oxford, Yale grad awarded Rhodes Scholarship

Young, Gifted & Black Series
Milwaukee Courier

“They are among the best of the best,” writes Steve Miller of CBS Channel 2 Chicago News. Each year, 83 students from over 20 countries are selected to receive the Rhodes Scholarship offering two to three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Eight of the 32 are from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut – five undergraduate and three recent alumni.

She is young, gifted, and Black. Rhiana Gunn-Wright recently on Sunday, November 18, 2012 was among Yale’s celebrated 2013 Rhodes Scholars awardees. Representing the most prestigious awards for international study, the Rhodes Scholarship, writes Chicago Sun Times columnist Mary Mitchell, is an award for some of the top students in the world.”

The Rhodes Scholarship was named 110 years ago in 1902 for Cecil Rhodes, an English-born South African businessman who founded the diamond Company DeBeers and was a strong advocate for British colonialism. The award provides all expenses for those students who best exemplify “academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness and leadership potential” according to a Yale published account.

Inclusive of Rhiana, awardees in this annual selection are not only a record number of Yale students chosen in one year, but Yale now boast the highest number of U.S. Rhodes Scholars for 2013.

“I had serious doubts about even applying because I didn’t see people who reflect my experiences, the places I had come from, the things that I am interested in pursuing,” said Rhiana in the November 19 Mitchell writing. And no wonder, the now 23-year-old grew up in Chicago South Side’s Englewood community.

“My mom wasn’t a lawyer or a doctor. My parents aren’t professional. My great-grandmother was a laundress in Mississippi. I actually struggled to apply for the Rhodes because I was like, people like me don’t win awards like this,” as noted in the Sun Times.

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