By Gene Johnson | AP November 19
The latest group of U.S. Rhodes scholars includes 10 African Americans — the most ever in a single Rhodes class — as well as a transgender man and four students from colleges that had never had received the honor before.
The Rhodes Trust on Sunday announced the 32 men and women chosen for post-graduate studies at Oxford University in England. Among them: the first black woman to lead the Corps of Cadets at West Point; a wrestler at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who’s helping develop a prosthetic knee for use in the developing world; and a Portland, Oregon, man who has studied gaps in his hometown’s “sanctuary city” policy protecting immigrants in the country illegally from deportation.
The 10 African Americans in the class include Simone Askew, of Fairfax, Virginia, who made headlines in August when she became the first black woman to serve as first captain of the 4,400-member Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy — the highest position in the cadet chain of command at West Point. Askew, a senior, is majoring in international history, focused her undergraduate thesis on the use of rape as a tool of genocide and plans to study evidence-based social intervention at Oxford.
Harvard College senior Tania N. Fabo, of Saugus, Massachusetts, created and codirected the first Black Health Matters Conference at the university. An immigrant who was born in Germany to Cameroonian parents, she plans to research oncology at Oxford.
Samantha M. Mack, the first winner from the University of Alaska Anchorage, is an Aleut woman who was born in a remote village before her parents brought her to Anchorage for better educational opportunities. She studies political theory from an indigenous and feminist perspective.
Thamara V. Jean, of Brooklyn, New York, completed her senior thesis at Hunter College of the City University of New York on the Black Lives Matter movement. Jean is a child of Haitian immigrants, according to Debbie Raskin, a spokeswoman for Hunter College.
And JaVaughn T. “J.T.” Flowers, who graduated this year from Yale University with a degree in political science, helped start an organization at Yale that provides mentors, tutors and summer stipends to make sure low-income students receive the same academic opportunities as others.