December 13, 2008 – Arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates, the Rhodes scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and colonial pioneer in Africa. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.
Students eligible to apply to become a Scholar were and still are supposed to show success in sports, a strong moral character, devotion to duty, interest in one’s fellow citizens and a desire to lead.
The four specific criteria Rhodes listed for his scholarships include:
1. Literary and scholastic attainments.
2. Energy to use one’s talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports.
3. Truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindness, unselfishness and fellowship.
4. Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings
These critera prove that it’s possible to be a scholar, athlete, and humanitarian at the highest levels.
Of the 32 Rhodes Scholars recently selected throughout the United States, five are women who excel in sports. These extraordinary women were varsity athletes while maintaining a serious academic schedule along with giving of their time to others. They are really the embodiment of the athlete as scholar.
The most recent group includes Noelle Lopez, captain of the Santa Clara cross-country and track teams, Caitlin E. Mullarkey, captain of the Swarthmore soccer team, Ashley L. Nord, a Minnesota pole vaulter, Julia Parker Goyer, a varsity tennis player from Duke and Lindsay M. Whorton, captain of the Drake women’s basketball team.
The Women’s Sports Blog does a great job profiling these women and showcasing their amazing individual achievements. Definitely worth learning more about each scholar.
Runners’ World also has a great interview with Lopez about the importance of running and how she fits it into her busy schedule of community service and the advanced study of ethics.
To be chosen as a Rhodes Scholar, candidates must first be endorsed by their college or university. More than 1,500 students each year seek their institution’s endorsement; this year, 769 were endorsed by 207 different colleges and universities. There are 16 Rhodes districts in the U.S. each of which names two Rhodes Scholars. A student may apply from the district where he or she lives or from the district where his or her college is located
Being a Rhodes Scholar is quite an accomplishment and comes with extraordinary benefits. Not only is full tuition paid, but students also receive a generous stipend to live on, and may receive additional scholarships through Oxford.
The elite athletes who earn Rhodes Scholarships go above and beyond and they deserve tremendous accolades. All will help make our world a better place and that is sorely needed right now.