Ethics in Society student (Stanford) honored with Rhodes Scholarship

Stanford senior Margaret Hayden was sitting at one end of a long conference table at a law firm in Manhattan. On the other end were seven panelists deciding her fate as a 2013 Rhodes Scholar.

What else should they know about her that they hadn’t already asked, one of them inquired. “I know we’ve talked about how I’m interested in mental illness,” she recalled telling the panel. “But more broadly I’m interested in how humans come to terms with these essential vulnerabilities in our condition.” 

Hayden is among 32 young Americans selected as 2013 Rhodes Scholars. The oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards, the scholarship provides all expenses for two or three years of study at Oxford University. Rhodes Scholars are awarded not only for scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership. Stanford student Rachel Kolb, who is studying for her master’s in English, is also a 2013 Rhodes Scholarship recipient.

Hayden, is a senior majoring in human biology and is writing her honors thesis in the Program in Ethics in Society. She is the second student in recent years from the Program to be recognized with a Rhodes Scholarship. Last year former Ethics in Society honors student Aysha Bagchi was recognized with the prestigious award.

Hayden came to the undergraduate ethics program as a freshman to bring ethical reflection to bear in her studies. “I like that we have this small cohort of students that we get to know,” she said. “There’s a lot of personal attention and community.”

In her working thesis, "The Ethical Implications of Biological Conceptions of Mental Illness and Personhood," Hayden explores the ethics of patient care.

"I’m interested in how people think about mental illness and how that changes across different cultures and across time,” Hayden said. “And then the connections between how we talk about mental illness and the larger questions about what it means to be humans — questions of autonomy and moral responsibility.”

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