Of the 100 Rhodes Scholars chosen worldwide for advanced study at Oxford in Britain each year, 32 come from the United States, and this time, 10 of those are African Americans.
The 10 African Americans in the class include Simone Askew, of Fairfax, Virginia, who made headlines in August when she became the first black woman to serve as first captain of the 4,400-member Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy—the highest position in the cadet chain of command at West Point. Askew, a senior, is majoring in international history, focused her undergraduate thesis on the use of rape as a tool of genocide and plans to study evidence-based social intervention at Oxford.
Several of the winners have devoted efforts to racial, social and economic justice.
Harvard College senior Tania N. Fabo, of Saugus, Massachusetts, created and codirected the first Black Health Matters Conference at the university. An immigrant who was born in Germany to Cameroonian parents, she plans to research oncology at Oxford.
"I'm still kind of in shock," Fabo said Sunday. "When they told me on Saturday I didn't really fully believe it."
Thamara V. Jean, of Brooklyn, New York, completed her senior thesis at Hunter College of the City University of New York on the Black Lives Matter movement. Jean is a child of Haitian immigrants, according to Debbie Raskin, a spokeswoman for Hunter College.
And JaVaughn T. "J.T." Flowers, who graduated this year from Yale University with a degree in political science, helped start an organization at Yale that provides mentors, tutors and summer stipends to make sure low-income students receive the same academic opportunities as others. Flowers has also examined gaps in Portland's sanctuary city policy. After graduating, he returned to Portland to work in the field office of Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who said Flowers has worked on a variety of issues, including on how high costs of phone or video calls in prisons not only rip off the inmates, but make it harder for them to keep in touch with their families and thus to readjust to society when they're released.
"He's just an outstanding candidate for the Rhodes," Blumenauer said Sunday. "He's a very quick study, very good with people, an incisive listener who is able to translate that back to people who contact him and to the staff in our office. We're excited for him, and we're excited for what he's going to do when he's back."
Calvin Runnels, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the second self-identified transgender Rhodes scholar from the U.S., following Pema McLaughlin, who was named a winner last year. A senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology, he has organized rallies in solidarity with the immigrant community and led efforts to increase the number of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Runnels will study biochemistry at Oxford. His research investigates the origin of the ribosome, which could provide insight into the origins of life, the Rhodes Trust said.
The scholarships, considered by many to be the most prestigious available to American students, cover all expenses for two or three years of study starting next October. In some cases, the scholarships may allow funding for four years. The winners came from a group of 866 applicants who were endorsed by 299 colleges and universities. Four of the institutions had winners for the first time: Hunter College at the City University of New York; Temple University in Philadelphia; the University of Alaska in Anchorage; and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Congrats to all those students and to all 32 students selected for this prestigious honor. Below is a complete list of the 2018 Rhode Scholars from the United States:
Tania N. Fabo, Saugus, Massachusetts (Harvard University)
Samarth Gupta, Acton, Massachusetts (Harvard University)
Christopher J. D'Urso, Colts Neck, New Jersey (University of Pennsylvania)
Jordan D. Thomas, South Plainfield, New Jersey (Princeton University)
Thamara V. Jean, Brooklyn, New York (Hunter College, City University of New York)
Daniel H. Judt, New York (Yale University)
Hazim Hardeman, Philadelphia (Temple University; also Community College of Pennsylvania)
Alan Yang, Dresher, Pennsylvania (Harvard University)
Nathan R. Bermel, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (U.S. Naval Academy)
Naomi T. Mburu, Ellicott City, Maryland (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Chelsea A. Jackson, Lithonia, Georgia (Emory University)
Calvin Runnels, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Matthew Rogers, Huntsville, Alabama (Auburn University)
Noah V. Barbieri, Beldin, Mississippi (Millsaps College)
Mary Clare Beytagh, Dallas (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Harold Xavier Gonzalez, Houston (Harvard University)
Simone M. Askew, Fairfax, Virginia (U.S. Military Academy)
Matthew Chun, Arlington, Virginia (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Thomas J. Dowling, Chicago, (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Camille A. Borders, Cincinnati (Washington University in St. Louis)
Nadine K. Jawad, Dearborn Heights, Michigan (University of Michigan)
Clara C. Lepard, East Lansing, Michigan (Michigan State University)
Jasmine Brown, Hillsborough, New Jersey (Washington University in St. Louis)
Jaspreet "Jesse" Singh, Oak Ridge, Tennessee (U.S. Air Force Academy)
Michael Z. Chen, Boulder, Colorado (Stanford University)
Joshua T. Arens, Yankton, South Dakota (University of South Dakota)
Samantha M. Mack, Anchorage, Alaska (University of Alaska, Anchorage)
JaVaughn T. "JT" Flowers, Portland, Oregon (Yale University)
Madeleine K. Chang, San Francisco (Stanford University)
Sean P. Reilly, San Jose, California (Santa Clara University)
Alexis L. Kallen, Ventura, California (Stanford University)
Gabrielle C. Stewart, San Dimas, California (Duke University)