Meet this year's 32 genius American Rhodes scholars — including a record-setting 21 women

Wikimedia CommonsThe 32 students will begin studies at Oxford University in England in the fall of 2019.
  • Thirty-two American students have been offered the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in the fall of 2019.
  • This year’s group includes 21 women, which is the most ever in a single Rhodes class; almost half of the 32 winners are immigrants or first-generation Americans.
  • Find out more about these students below.

Thirty-two ambitious American students have been offered the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and will be heading to study at Oxford University in the fall of 2019.

The scholarship – famously won by Bill Clinton, Cory Booker, and Rachel Maddow – pays for two to three years of post-graduate study at Oxford University in England.

This year’s winners were selected from a pool of 880 applicants, whom their colleges and universities nominated for their academic excellence, ambition, and promise of leadership.

“We seek outstanding young men and women of intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service,” Elliot F. Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust, said in a statement on Saturday.

This year’s group includes 21 women, which is the most ever in a single Rhodes class; almost half of the 32 winners are immigrants or first-generation Americans. Duke, Princeton, and Yale universities each had three Rhodes scholars.

Find out more about the winners below.


Eren Orbey, computer science and English language/literature senior at Yale University

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Orbey has won many Yale literature prizes for writing in both English and French and is a regular contributor to the New Yorker.

He is currently writing a book that draws on his tragic experience as a young boy witnessing his father’s murder in Ankara, Turkey.

Orbey plans to do a master’s degree in global and imperial history and in world literatures in English.


Sarah Tress, mechanical engineering senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ian MacLellan

Tress has been focused on developing solutions to improve lives across the developing world. She created Loop, and inflatable wheelchair seat cushion, that aims to prevent wheelchair users from developing sores.

At Oxford, Sarah will pursue the master of philosophy in development studies.


Nicolette C. D’Angelo, classics senior at Princeton University

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D’Angelo is the editor-in-chief of The Nassau Literary Review, Princeton’s undergraduate literary magazine. She also teaches Latin to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at Princeton Young Achievers.

At Oxford, she will do a master of studies in Classics.


Margaret H. Dods, English and Arabic senior at the United States Naval Academy

Dods serves as a Battalion Commander at the Naval Academy and is responsible for leading 750 of her peers.

She is currently training commission into the United States Marine Corps.

At Oxford, she will study a master of philosophy in modern Middle Eastern studies.


Alaleh Azhir, biomedical engineering, computer science, applied mathematics and statistics senior at Johns Hopkins University

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Azhir’s research in genomics and various biomedical subjects has been published in major national and international journals.

She also mentors middle school students and runs arts programs for children in under-resourced neighbourhoods, according to the Rhodes Trust.

Azhir will do a master of science in women’s and reproductive health at Oxford.


Jin Kyu Park is completing a BA in molecular and cellular biology with a minor in ethnicity, migration, and rights at Harvard University

South Korean born Kyu Park is the first DACA recipient to become a Rhodes Scholar.

In 2014, he founded HigherDreams, a non-profit organisation that helps undocumented students to apply for college in the US. He has published opinion pieces about immigration in The New York Times and the Harvard Crimson and appeared on MSNBC to talk about DACA legislation.

He is currently managing editor of the Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal and a research assistant at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.

Kyu Park plans to do masters degrees in migration studies and global health science and epidemiology.


Brittany N. Ellis, social anthropology and archaeology senior at Harvard University

Darren McCollester/Newsmakers

Ellis is a reporter and news executive at the Harvard Crimson, the university’s student paper.

Her reporting exposed problems with the Harvard Athletic Department that resulted in an assessment of varsity athletic culture.

She intends to do the master of philosophy in visual, material, and museum studies at Oxford.


Anea B. Moore, law senior at the University of Pennsylvania

f11photo/Shutterstock

Moore is co-president of a non-profit that supports first-generation, low-income college students.

Her sociology research has focused on issues related to gentrification, race, class, and family engagement and well-being.

At Oxford, she intends to pursue a master’s degree in evidence-based social intervention and in comparative international education.


Lia Petrose, neuroscience and economics graduate of the University of Pittsburgh

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Petrose has written three research papers that have been published in leading medical journals. She is currently a research assistant for Heidi Williams at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As an undergraduate, she was elected to the executive board of the student government and served as the student member of the board of trustees committee on academic affairs.

Petrose will study a bachelor of arts in computer science and philosophy at Oxford.


Katharine H. Reed, history senior at Princeton University

Reed is majoring in history and studying Latin American studies and Spanish at Princeton.

Her research is focused on the relationship between the US and Latin America.

She is a two-time recipient of Princeton Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence.

At Oxford, she will study a master of philosophy in development studies.


Ariel Kantor, biotechnology senior at Duke University

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Kantor’s research is focused on helping patients battling rare diseases.

At Oxford, he will study for a doctor of philosophy in molecular biology.


John Hoffmeyer, comparative literature senior at Princeton University

Hoffmeyer minors in Chinese language and culture, as well as piano performance.

He is a distinguished musician, earning a silver medal at the 2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and participating in the Young Artist Residency at the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

He is president and co-founder of the Princeton Chamber Music Society.

At Oxford, he plans to do a master of science in modern languages.


James W. Brahm, computer science senior at the United States Air Force Academy

LinkedIn

Brahm minors in Chinese, nuclear weapons, and strategy.

He has previously interned at the National Security Agency, where he engineered reusable software to support US intelligence efforts. Brahm also has a patent pending.

He currently leads the Wing Information Services Team, which is responsible for ensuring IT support to over 4,000 cadets.

At Oxford, he will study for a master of science in computer science.


Mikaela Jazlyn Brisack, public policy, journalism, and English senior at the University of Mississippi

Brisack is an opinion columnist for the Daily Mississippian and an active political campaigner – even managing a state house campaign.

She is president of the College Democrats and volunteers as a clinic escort at Mississippi’s last abortion clinic.

Brisack will do study for a master’s degree at Oxford in public policy and women’s studies.


Kristina M. Correa, biology senior at Stanford University

LinkedIn

Correa, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, was raised by a single mother.

She has done research in four different laboratories, and her senior thesis is on cellular glycans and cancer, according to the Rhodes Trust.

At Oxford, she plans to pursue master’s degrees in integrated immunology and computer science.


Kushal T. Kadakia, public policy and biology senior at Duke University

Chadarat Saibhut/Shutterstock

Kadakia, who served as student body vice president and as a voting member of the Duke board of trustees, led the campaign to make his campus smoke-free, according to the Rhodes Trust.

He frequently writes on on health policy topics and worked in the North Carolina governor’s office on Medicaid transformation.

He will study for a master of philosophy in evidence-based social intervention and policy at Oxford.


Hadeel Abdallah, political science senior at the University of Kentucky

Abdallah is the University of Kentucky’s first Rhodes Scholar since 1955.

She has been an activist for immigrant and refugee women and founded a program that provides scholarships to underrepresented students across Kentucky.

At Oxford, she wants to pursue master’s degrees in refugee and forced migration studies as well as global governance and diplomacy.


Jennifer Huang, mathematics and social and cultural analysis graduate from Indiana University

Huang graduated from Indiana University in 2017.

A woman of diverse interests, she has published a paper in a leading scientific journal and won a fiction award from the school.

Huang will pursue a master of science in the social science of the internet at Oxford.


Kristiana L. Yao, public health and business administration graduate from the University of Miami

Shutterstock/Barbara Kalbfleisch

Yao graduated in 2018 with dual degrees, a bachelor of sciences in public health and a bachelor of business administration.

She previously interned for the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and at the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

At Oxford, she will pursue a master of science degree in comparative social policy.


Laila Ujayli, international relations and English graduate from Ohio State University

LinkedIn

After growing up in Syria and Saudi Arabia, Ujayli graduated from Ohio State in May 2018.

She will pursue master’s degrees in refugee and forced migration studies and world literature.


Riley S. Tillitt, history and ethics, politics, and economics senior at Yale University

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Tillitt is focused on criminal justice reform, and served as a drug policy adviser for Connecticut Governor-elect Ned Lamont.

At Oxford, Riley will pursue master’s degrees in public policy and criminology and criminal justice.


Rhea C. Stark, graduate of archaeology and the ancient world and Middle East studies from Brown University

Stark graduated from Brown in 2018. She focused on Islamic heritage in her research.

At Oxford, she will do a master of philosophy in Islamic art and archaeology.


Austin T. Hughes, English, theatre arts and Japanese language and literature senior at the University of Iowa

David Harmantas/Shutterstock

Hughes has won numerous awards for his poetry and creative writing at both the university and national level.

He is co-president of The English Society.

At Oxford, he will pursue a master of philosophy in Japanese studies.


Grant H. Rigney, chemical and biomolecular engineering senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

LinkedIn

Grant is the editor-in-chief of Pursuit, the University of Tennessee’s journal of undergraduate research.

He volunteers at a local homeless clinic and founded the Homeless Prevention University and Community Alliance.

He will pursue a master’s degrees in global health science, epidemiology and evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation at Oxford.


Serene K. Singh, political science and journalism senior at the University of Colorado

LinkedIn

Highly involved, Singh is chief justice of the Student Government Supreme Court, founder of the National Sikh Youth Program, founder of a non-profit that helps at-risk women, co-chair of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council, and president of the school’s Indian Student Association.

She is currently an intern for the Obama Foundation, working with former first lady Michelle Obama on empowering girls.

At Oxford, she plans to do a master’s degrees in criminology and criminal justice, and evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation.


Claire R. Wang, environmental science and policy senior at Duke University

LinkedIn

Wang is president of the Duke Climate Coalition, and Duke’s president chose her to advise on campus sustainability and climate policy, according to the Rhodes Trust.

Wange will pursue master’s degrees at Oxford in environmental change and management, and global governance and diplomacy.


Rachel Elena Gallina, economics and political science graduate of Boise State University

LinkedIn

The child of aid workers, Elena researches and works to end gender-based violence in refugee camps and conflict zones.

She will study for a master of business administration (MBA) and a master of science in refugee and forced migration studies.


Katherine M. Kowal, physics and political science graduate from Lewis and Clark College

LinkedIn

Having graduated in 2017, Kowal is now a science and technology policy fellow at the Institute for Defence Analyses, where she works on space weather and nuclear power in space.

At Oxford, she will pursue for a doctor of philosophy in geography and environment.


Rayan A. Alsemeiry, global affairs senior at Yale University

Saudi Arabian migrant Alsemeiry came to the US in early 2001 having “endured profound economic instability and homelessness during his childhood,” the Rhodes Trust wrote in its announcement of this year’s winners.

At college, he was recognised by the Jefferson Awards Association and the Yale Alumni Association for “innovative, outstanding, and sustained contributions in service to the greater good.”

Alsemeiry has interned at the World Bank, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights Watch.

At Oxford, he will pursue an master of philosophy in international relations.


Leah Crowder, middle eastern and North African studies graduate from University of Arizona

Crowder, who graduated in 2018, is currently pursuing a master’s in middle eastern and North African studies. She has worked in Turkey in a variety of peacekeeping efforts in the past.

At Oxford, she will pursue a doctor of philosophy in international relations.


Vidal M. Arroyo, biochemistry and molecular biology senior at Chapman University

LinkedIn

Arroyo is the first Rhodes Scholar from Chapman University.

There, he mentored at-risk youth in STEM to get more kids interested in science.

His research has looked at the link between cancer and obesity, and the different survival rates for childhood cancers.

At Oxford, Vidal will study for a doctor of philosophy in engineering science.


Madison L. Tung, mathematics and humanities senior at the United States Air Force Academy

SOM/William Lukes AIA/Emporis

Tung is researching how to use artificial intelligence to help leaders make decisions.

She is also a six-time national women’s wrestling champion.

At Oxford, she will pursue master’s degrees in computer science and in global governance and diplomacy.

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