Ten African Americans are included on the 2018 list of 32 exceptional American students who’ve been named Rhodes Scholars, several media outlets have reported. It is the highest number of students of African descent to be named to the prestigious award.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far about these exceptional young men and women. This post will be updated as I learn more.
Simone Askew of Virginia has been named a Rhodes Scholar. Askew also received another tremendous honor this year: The West Point cadet is the first African American woman to lead the cadet corps as first captain, a coveted role, many news outlets have reported.
Camille Borders, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, is majoring in history as a Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellow.
Jasmine Brown of New Jersey attends Washington University in St. Louis where she studies biology with a focus on neuroscience.
Tania Fabo, who was born in Germany of Cameroonian parents, is a senior at Harvard. She has done cancer research and studies human development and regenerative biology.
JaVaughn T. “J.T.” Flowers is a graduate of Yale University where he studied political science, according to the Associated Press.
Hazim Hardeman graduated magna cum laude from Temple University where he studied strategic communication. He is the university’s first-ever Rhodes Scholar, according to the Inquirer. Hardeman previously attended the Community College of Philadelphia.
Chelsea Jackson, a student at Emory College in Atlanta, is the first African American Emory student to receive the honor, according to AJC.com. She studies political science and African American studies as a double major.
Thamara V. Jean, of Brooklyn, New York, studies at the City University of New York, Hunter College. She completed her senior thesis on the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, news media have reported. Jean is a first-generation American born to Haitian parents.
Naomi Mburu is a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where Freeman Hrabowski is president. Mburu is a first-generation American whose parents are from Kenya. She studies chemical engineering, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Jordan Thomas of New Jersey is a senior at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Thomas “is also studying Portuguese language and culture and African American studies,” NJ.com reports.
A Priceless Honor
That students of African descent make up nearly a third of the Rhodes Scholars is a testament to racial progress. When the first black Rhodes Scholar showed up in Great Britain in 1907, Alain LeRoy Locke was given a chilly reception. Apparently, the selection committee didn’t know he was black until they saw him.
It would be another 50 years before another black person would be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, widely considered the most prestigious in the world.
Rhodes Scholarships are valued at approximately $68,000, but really the honor is priceless. Scholars study at the renowned Oxford University in the U.K.
The scholarships are awarded by the Rhodes Trust, which honors the will of Cecil Rhodes, an advocate of apartheid in southern Africa, where he excavated his wealth, and a believer in racial hierarchy.
For more about all 32 Rhodes Scholars, go here.