This past Sunday, an announcement was made that will forever change the lives of 32 American students. These 32 students will be heading to the University of Oxford in England in October of 2011 as the latest group of Rhodes Scholars.
This year there are 17 women and 15 men that gained the prestigious designation of Rhodes Scholars. There were a total of 837 applicants this year from 309 schools. The 32 scholars from the United States heading to Oxford next October will join several others from 14 jurisdictions around the world.
For many, this is the most famous academic award available to American college students. This year’s scholars include more women than men for only the third time since women were allowed to apply in 1976. Also, for the first time in history, two scholars come from the state of South Dakota. Ursinus College and the University of California, Irvine are the two new colleges that were added to the list of those represented by winners this year.
This scholarship was created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes who was a British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. The estimated total value of the Rhodes Scholarship is roughly $50,000 per year. Some of the specifics of the scholarship include payment of all college and university fees, a stipend to cover necessary expenses and transportation to and from England. The Rhodes Scholarship allows all expenses to be paid for two to three years and, in some instances, a fourth year.
Becoming a Rhodes Scholar is not an easy task. To even be eligible, students must be endorsed by their college or university. Other qualifications which are outlined in the Will of Cecil Rhodes include high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor. Rhodes himself believed that his Scholars should esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.