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Rhodes Trust Names 32 American Students to Study at Oxford


Thirty-two college students from across the United States — three of whom attend school in Pennsylvania — have been selected as Rhodes Scholars for 2006, the scholarship trust announced Sunday.

The scholars, selected from 903 applicants who were endorsed by 333 colleges and universities, will enter Oxford University in England next October. The scholarships are the oldest of the international study awards available to American students and provide two or three years of study at Oxford.

Luke Norris, 20, a senior at Gettysburg College, said he was floored when he found out Saturday that he had won. He is Gettysburg’s first Rhodes Scholar since 1917.

 “I was just thrilled, shocked, not able to think,” said Norris, a political science major interested in international relations.

One of the areas he hopes to study is how international relations is changing now that “non-state actors” such as terrorist groups are playing more of a role in the world.

“I’m particularly interested in the changing structure of the international system, post-Cold War,” said Norris, who lived much of his life in Bucks County in suburban Philadelphia before moving to Brigantine, N.J. “I think we’re seeing needs for substantive changes in international law.”

University of Pennsylvania student Brett Shaheen, 22, said he’s interested in studying the developing world during his time at Oxford, but hasn’t committed to any particular field of study. “I’m going into this with an open mind,” he said.

Shaheen, of St. Louis, is studying economics and international relations at Penn, where he also has played varsity squash, won the National Beethoven Society piano competition, and is editor-in-chief of Penn’s Undergraduate Journal of Economics.

Justin Chalker, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in chemistry and the history and philosophy of science, of Meade, Kan., is completing research on Alzheimer’s disease. He plans to study organic chemistry at Oxford.

Atlanta native and University of the South in Tennessee graduate Katherine K. Wilkinson also won the scholarship. After graduating, Wilkinson ran a nonprofit environmental group and earned a Ph.D. in social ethics. At Oxford, she plans to study environmental policy, a topic she has been passionate about since high school.

Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes.

The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 13 other nations around the world. Approximately 85 scholars are selected each year.

With the elections announced Sunday, 3,078 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 307 colleges and universities.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the field of study. The total value averages about $40,000 per year.

— Associated Press

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