U.S. Rhodes Scholars for 2022 include record number of women

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The class of U.S. Rhodes Scholars for 2022 includes the largest number of women ever selected for the scholarship in a year, the Rhodes Trust announced on Sunday.

Of the 32 students chosen to study at the University of Oxford in England, 22 are women, the office of the US secretary of the trust said in a statement.

One of the women selected is Louise Franke, a 21-year-old who studies biochemistry at Clemson University in South Carolina. Franke said she hopes to merge her interests in science and public policy through a career in health care policy. She intends to study politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.

Franke, from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is also the first Clemson student elected to a class in Rhodes. She cited her mentors and various academic programs at the school as integral to her success.

“It’s amazing to be a part of this historic moment, as a woman and as a southerner,” Franke said. “I don’t really have the words for this.”

Another winner is Devashish Basnet, a political science student at Hunter College in New York City. Basnet arrived in the United States as a 7-year-old Nepalese asylum seeker and spent much of his childhood in immigration courts, an experience he said helped him become interested immigration policy.

Basnet, now 22, of Hicksville, New York, said he was proud to represent the communities he came from, especially as a product of New York City Public Schools.

“I definitely passed out. It didn’t seem real, ”Basnet said of when he learned he had won the prestigious honor on Zoom.

The selection process has been virtually completed for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an otherwise empty Princeton University classroom, Josh Babu began to cry when he heard his name read aloud. The 21-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., Had planned to go to medical school next year to become a doctor serving LGBTQ populations, a vocation he found in college after growing up gay in what he described as a conservative environment.

But a Rhodes scholarship will help Babu launch a political career that will touch the lives of many more queer and transgender people, he said. Her graduation thesis explores the health benefits of gender-affirming medical care for transgender children. This type of research is needed, Babu said, because some state lawmakers have sought to limit such care.

“I was hoping to be just a doctor for queer and trans patients,” Babu said. “It now gives me the opportunity to be in health policy and really affect change at that level” which is “much more widespread and far reaching”.

Three schools – Claremont McKenna College, Mount Holyoke College and Union College – have a recipient for the first time in at least 25 years.

The 32 academics were due to start in Oxford in October. The scholarship covers the financial expenses to attend school.

Applicants must be approved by their college or university. Selection committees from 16 US districts then select and interview finalists before electing two students from each district.

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