GameDay: Laying the foundation for a Rhodes Scholar

Hayden Kim
Daily Emerald

This holiday season, the Aiken family has a lot to be thankful for. In addition to having three sons attend Washington University at Saint Louis, their youngest, Joshua, was recently named as one of 32 Rhodes Scholars. As a family who had instilled strong morals and the importance of education in their boys early on, the hard work had finally paid off.

“We are very excited for Joshua to have an opportunity to study at Oxford for two years,” Sheryl Aiken, the wife of Oregon defensive line coach Ron Aiken said. “He is only 21 years old and we would never want him to feel that he has reached the pinnacle of his success. It is my understanding that the Rhodes Trust issues this award to persons they want to invest in because they feel these young people can make a significant contribution/difference in the world and we hope his time at Oxford will help prepare him to do that.”

Growing up, reading books, playing music and sports were all forms of entertainment and preparation for the future. During the long car rides between the eight different states they’ve lived in, or free time at home, both Ron and Sheryl always found a way to get their three boys, Matthew (25), Stephen (24) and Joshua (21), to find their interests.

Whether it be learning how to play the trombone (Joshua) or reading a history book, all three Aiken boys were indulged into a multitude of various activities as kids. This essentially laid a foundation for their individual futures.

“I was really lucky growing up that I had a few role models who made having diverse interests seem normal,” Joshua said. “That might come from my dad — he coaches football but also loves history. I felt very comfortable delving into theater and speech and debate, while also keeping up with sports. It became hectic and there were times where I’d have to choose, but I genuinely loved them both and grew so much from those experiences.”

For Joshua specifically, the 10th grade was a turning point. While Joshua had already been excelling in academics and sports, his parents saw an increase in his dedication toward academics in high school.

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