Hometown Student is Newest Rhodes Scholar

Bakersfield Californian

Stockdale High School grad and U.S. Military Academy at West Point senior Evan Szablowski knew all his life that he wanted to be a Rhodes scholar some day.

But when Szablowski learned a little more than two weeks ago that he would be among 32 Americans selected for a scholarship to study at Oxford University in the United Kingdom next fall, he didn't jump up and down and celebrate.

West Point Class of 2013 Cadet Evan Szablowski has been named a Rhodes scholar.

"Right before, I was thinking, 'This is one of those moments where what they say next could change my life forever,'" he recalled.

Then Szablowski braced himself.

He'd met the competition and had been so impressed by their academic and leadership credentials that he'd called home to to confide to his parents that the whole thing was a long shot.

The winners were selected the same day Szablowski and 10 other finalists from a district including California and Arizona were interviewed in Los Angeles. The news was announced after the interviews "in front of everybody," he said.

Upon hearing his name, Szablowski, 21, said a "sense of peace" washed over him.

"I thought, 'I know what I'm supposed to be doing.' I felt very calm, almost. It was unexpected," he said.

Szablowski's first call was to his best friend, Allen Moss, a West Point classmate he'd sorely neglected during a grueling application process that included writing a personal essay and submitting the formal endorsement of his university, at least five letters of recommendation, a list of extra-curricular activities and a transcript.

Then he called his parents, John and Lisa Szablowski.

"We are very proud of him," said John Szablowski, executive pastor of The Bridge Bible Church. "We're kind of overwhelmed by what he has achieved."

It's not that big of a stretch for Szablowski to study abroad. The math major has already been to the Czeck Republic, Ethiopia, Morocco and South Korea to study business and economics there on short fellowships.

Bakersfield's very own Rhodes scholar traveled widely growing up, even spending part of his childhood in Indonesia, where his father had worked in the oil industry before becoming a minister.

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