OU student named Rhodes Scholar
BY RON TODT Associated Press
Monday, November 19, 2012
11/19/12 at 5:55 AM
PHILADELPHIA - They've studied in countries from Ghana to China, speak languages from Zulu to Mandarin and count everything from West African drumming to firefighting among their talents.
The 32 Rhodes Scholars announced Sunday represent a diverse cross-section of U.S. students, hailing from New England to the Deep South, from Ivy League universities to small liberal arts colleges.
However, the scholars, who will study at Oxford University in England beginning next October, are selected based on a core set of criteria: academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor.
The list includes Mubeen A. Shakir of Oklahoma City, a student at the University of Oklahoma.
Recipients reached by The Associated Press all described similar reactions: They were excited, humbled and at times in disbelief.
"I keep sort of checking my phone to see if this actually happened," said David Carel, a Yale University senior and one of seven recipients from the school. "It's so hard to believe, I just sort of assume I dreamed the whole thing."
Carel said he hopes to use his scholarship to study how health, education and economics intersect.
A trip to explore the South African roots of his family led to work in the KwaZulu-Natal region of western South Africa, where he joined Peace Corps volunteers and later a nonprofit working with at-risk youths who aren't in school and don't have jobs, trying to prevent widespread alcoholism, depression and other problems.
He is fluent in Zulu and Hebrew, is a lead drummer in a West African dance troupe and teaches a form of Israeli dance.
Rhiana Gunn-Wright's ambitions stem from her childhood in the impoverished Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.
"I've seen the way that poverty robs people of their opportunity to explore their capabilities," she said. The Yale graduate currently researches poverty's effects on people's access to a college education and hopes to one day help reform social welfare policy.
Christian Heller, a 21-year-old United States Naval Academy student, has a deep interest in Middle Eastern affairs and the effects of the oil industry. But his interest grew when he started seeing the connections between how the industry developed overseas and how the energy sector is developing in his home state of North Dakota, which is experiencing growth amid the oil boom.
"That's pretty much where I'm from and it was having a big impact on the people I know," said Heller, who grew up an hour southeast of the heart of the boom.
Others also described deeply personal reasons for their studies. Chris Dobyns of Highland, Md., said his grandfather - a Methodist minister - would preach at different churches, including an African-American church every Ash Wednesday.
That exposed him to a variety of cultures during his upbringing in suburban Washington, D.C., and ultimately inspired him to pursue African studies at Cornell University.
"There are a lot of people who promoted that in my life, but it really started and ended, I think, with my faith," said Dobyns, who also was a volunteer firefighter at Cornell.
For Rachel Myrick, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student, a trip with a nonprofit to Cambodia inspired her interest in studying the causes and consequences of ethnic conflict.
"I learned a lot about genocide reconstruction," she said. "It's been an intellectual and personal interest."
Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes and have a value of about $50,000 per year.
The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 14 other jurisdictions around the world. About 80 scholars are selected each year.
List of Rhodes Scholars
A list of the 32 American students who were named Sunday as Rhodes Scholars, according to the Rhodes Trust:
Original Print Headline: OU student named among Rhodes Scholars for 2013
- Clayton P. Aldern, Cedar, Minn. (Brown)
- Juliet Elizabeth Allan, Atlanta (University of Georgia)
- Jennifer M. Bright, N.Y. (Yale)
- Joy A. Buolamwini, Cordova, Tenn. (Georgia Institute of Technology)
- David M. Carel, Penn Valley, Pa. (Yale)
- Aiden C.de B. Daly, N.Y. (Harvard)
- Christopher B. Dobyns, Highland, Md. (Cornell)
- Amanda J. Frickle, Billings, Mont. (The College of Idaho)
- Julian B. Gewirtz, Hamden, Conn. (Harvard)
- Rhiana E. Gunn-Wright, Oak Lawn, Ill. (Yale)
- Margaret C. Hayden, Brunswick, Maine (Stanford)
- Christian H. Heller, Beulah, N.D. (U.S. Naval Academy)
- Allan J. Hsiao, Louisville, Ky. (Harvard)
- Kiley F. Hunkler, Glendale, Mo. (U.S. Military Academy)
- Micah A. Johnson, Canton, Ohio (Yale)
- Rachel R. Kolb, Los Ranchos, N.M. (Stanford)
- Catherine Laporte-Oshiro, Larkspur, Calif. (Yale)
- Benjamine Y. Liu, Westlake Village, Calif. (Yale)
- Dakota E. McCoy, Wexford, Pa. (Yale)
- Rachel M. Myrick, Charlotte, N.C. (University of North Carolina)
- Daniel A. Price, Grass Valley, Calif. (University of California, Berkeley)
- Joseph W. Riley, Athens, Tenn. (University of Virginia)
- Mubeen A. Shakir, Oklahoma City (University of Oklahoma)
- Evan R. Szablowski, Bakersfield, Calif. (U.S. Military Academy)
- Joseph W. Thiel, Boise, Idaho (Montana State University)
- Katie D. Whitcombe, Mesa, Ariz. (U.S. Naval Academy)
- Georgianna H. Whiteley, Wayzata, Minn. (Luther College)
- Benjamin B.H. Wilcox, Winnetka, Ill. (Harvard)
- Rachel M. Woodlee, Greer, S.C. (Wofford College)
- Nina M. Yancy, DeSoto, Texas (Harvard)
- Phillip Z. Yao, North Caldwell, N.J. (Harvard)
- Daniel W. Young, Charlottesville, Va. (Cornell)
OU student named to honor
Mubeen A. Shakir, a senior biochemistry major at the University of Oklahoma, is among 32 students announced as Rhodes Scholars on Sunday.
Shakir is pursuing a career in medicine with a specialty in oncology and will perform oncology research at Oxford University.
He has distinguished himself in a number of areas, including participating in development of an app that will aid in detecting concussions in collision sports.
He writes a column for the student newspaper, tutors children and teens in the Oklahoma Muslim community and co-founded an education program for underprivileged youth.
- ASSOCIATED PRESS