The Rhodes Trust recently named two African-American students Rhodes Scholars.
Fagan Harris of Glen Burnie, Md. and Esther Udehi of Evansville, Ind. will join 30 other Americans and travel to England next October to study at Oxford University.
Harris is a 2009 graduate of Stanford University in California where he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and American studies. He’s currently completing a Masters degree in human rights and criminal justice at the University of Limerick in Ireland as a Mitchell Scholar. He plans to pursue a doctorate in philosophy while at Oxford.
Udehi is a senior at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she majors in biochemistry and mathematics. In addition to serving as a visiting student at Oxford, she was also a Wells Scholar, Presidential Intern and Senator Richard Lugar Scholar. At Oxford, Udehi plans to pursue a doctorate in chemistry.
This year’s winners were chosen from 837 applicants from 309 different colleges and universities across the globe. The scholarship pays expenses for two or three years of study at the renowned university and is worth an estimated $50,000 per year.
Often hailed as the “oldest and most prestigious international graduate scholarship program in the world,” the Rhodes Scholarship was created in 1902 by British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes, who acquired wealth from his diamond mining empire in South Africa, set up provisions for the program in his will.
Applicants for the scholarship are first endorsed by their respective universities. After a committee in each of the 16 U.S. districts invites the strongest students to appear before them for an interview, the winners are chosen based on criteria set by Rhodes. Ideal students exhibit integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.
Past recipients of the award include the 1st Black Rhodes Scholar, philosopher, educator and writer about the Harlem Renaissance, Alain Locke; former U.S. President Bill Clinton; the 2nd Black Rhodes Scholar, nationally acclaimed writer John E. Wideman; current NAACP President Benjamin T. Jealous; and more recently Myron Rolle, all-ACC Defensive Back, Florida State Seminoles and 6th round draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft of the Tennessee Titans.