Fort Collins woman named Rhodes scholar

Alex Ruiz

DENVER — A Colorado woman who studies Middle Eastern politics is "still in shock" after being named one of the newest Rhodes Scholars.

Meredith Lukens Wheeler of Fort Collins is a senior at Stanford University in California, majoring in history and political science. She is one of 32 American students awarded the prestigious scholarships announced Sunday that provide all expenses for two or three years of study at Oxford University in England.

Wheeler said in an interview Sunday that she "couldn't believe it was my name that I was hearing. It was a really surreal moment."

She plans to pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in modern Middle Eastern studies at Oxford, which she calls "a global hub" for study of the region and where she says she can gain a broader perspective.

She lived in Egypt for 10 months between 2009 and 2010, before the 2011 Arab Spring, where she studied comparative democratization, post-coup repression and Islamic party politics. She also interviewed activists and leaders in Morocco for three months last year, focusing on Islamic political organizations running on anti-corruption platforms.

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