US Rhodes Scholars for 2022 Includes More Women, Immigrants

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The Rhodes Trust announced on Sunday that the US Rhodes Scholars section for 2022 includes the largest number of women selected for scholarships in a single year.

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The Office of the US Secretary of the Trust said in a statement that 22 of the 32 students selected to study at the University of Oxford in England are women.

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

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Frank Rhodes, from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is also the first Clemson student selected for the class. He described his mentors and various academic programs at the school as an integral part of his success.

“It feels amazing to be a part of this historic moment as a woman and a woman from the South,” said Frank. “I really don’t have words for it.”

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Among the winners is Debashish Basnet, a senior who studied political science at Hunter College in New York City. Basnett arrived in the United States from Nepal as a 7-year-old asylum seeker and spent much of his childhood in immigration courts, an experience he says helped shift his interests toward immigration policy.

File: Rhodes Scholar Debashish Basnet, April 2919

Basnet, now 22, of Hicksville, New York, said he was proud to represent the communities he came from, particularly as a product of New York City’s public schools.

“I definitely blacked out. It didn’t feel real,” Busnett said of the moment he learned he had won the coveted honor on Zoom.

The selection process was almost completed for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an empty classroom at Princeton University, Josh Babu started crying when he heard his name read aloud. The 21-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona, had planned to go to medical school next year to become a doctor serving the LGBTQ population, which he found in college after growing up as gay in what he described as a conservative environment.

FILE: Rhodes Scholar Josh Babu in Phoenix, August 2019

FILE: Rhodes Scholar Josh Babu in Phoenix, August 2019

But the Rhodes Scholarship will help Babu launch a policy career that will impact the lives of many gay and transgender people, he said. Her senior thesis explores the health benefits of gender-affirming medical care for transgender children. Such research is necessary, Babu said, as some state lawmakers have sought to limit such care.

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

Three schools — Claremont McKenna College in California, Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and Union College in New York — are recipients for the first time in at least 25 years.

All 32 scholars were expected to begin at Oxford in October. The scholarship covers financial expenses to attend school.

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

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