The Latest Class of Rhodes Scholars Includes Five Black Students

Amongst the 32 finalists, five of the high achieving students are black

Graduation cap and diploma

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The Rhodes Trust has just named its latest class of students who will study at the University of Oxford as Rhodes Scholars, which is one of the highest honors that any U.S. college student can receive.

Amongst the 32 final winners that were chosen from the pool of 877 high-achieving students, five of the scholars are black.

Created in 1902 by Cecil Rhodes, who was a British businessman, the Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. In 1907, Harvard University student Alain LeRoy Locke became the first black Rhodes Scholar, and in 1978 Karen Stevenson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became the first African American female Rhodes Scholar. Fast forward to today, and there are five black scholars, who in this year alone, have made the final list to receive the prestigious award.

Check their profiles below that were released by the Rhodes Trust.

Image: (L to R) Robert A. Fisher, Rachel V. Harmon, Ridwan Y. Hassen, Tayo A. Sanders II, and Sarah E. Yerima (


Robert A. Fisher is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, who majors in political science with minors in history and Africana studies. A former recipient of the Truman Scholarship, Fisher is the student body president at his university and was appointed by the Governor as student representative to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. With a perfect academic record, Fisher plans to study for a master’s degree in comparative social policy at Oxford.

Rachel V. Harmon is a senior at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where she is majoring in industrial and labor relations. Before starting her college career, Harmon was an AmeriCorps volunteer as a reading tutor at an all-black rural elementary school in the Mississippi Delta. She plans on studying for a master’s degree in evidence-based social policy at Oxford.

Ridwan Y. Hassen is a senior at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire who majors in computer science with an emphasis on neuroscience. He began his college career at Emory University and transferred to Dartmouth after two years. He is the son of refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia, and has always worked hard to support his large family while maintaining a high academic record. He is the founder of a global development project focused on the Horn of Africa, was a volunteer coordinator for the NAACP, and founded Emory’s first AIDS activist organization. At Dartmouth, Hassen is a member of the Endurance Racing Team, and plans to study for a master’s degree in public policy at Oxford.

Tayo A. Sanders II is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he is majoring in materials science. He is a Goldwater Scholar who has done extensive research in nanotechnology with many publications, and has presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. Sanders is a triathlete and co-captain of a triathlon team, and plans to earn a Ph.D. in materials science at Oxford.

Sarah E. Yerima is a senior at Princeton University in New Jersey who is majoring in sociology. Yerima has an exceptional academic record and has served as a residential college advisor as well as a women’s mentor. She is also a member of the Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows, and has studied racial prejudice abroad in Brazil. She will enroll in a two-year, master’s degree program in politics at Oxford. After studying at Oxford, Yerima plans to enter a joint J.D./Ph.D. and hopes to become a professor of law.


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