Yale Boasts Most Rhodes Scholars in a Decade – Yale Daily News | Team Cansler

Five Yale seniors have been announced as winners of the Rhodes Scholarship, a prestigious award given to 32 American undergraduate students funding graduate studies at the University of Oxford.

Anika Seth

11:44 p.m. Nov. 14, 2022

staff reporter

Yale News

Painfully waiting for a Zoom call for four hours Saturday night, Sophie Huttner ’23 sat in her dorm room at Silliman College in anticipation of potentially life-changing news.

Hearing the final decision, she logged off, ran outside and cheered – and then headed straight to Mory’s to celebrate. Huttner was named one of the 2023 United States Rhodes Scholars, joining a distinguished cohort of 32 students across the country. She is also one of five Yale winners this year, marking the most Yalies to receive the prestigious award in a single application cycle in a decade.

“I thought I misunderstood the chairman and didn’t realize they actually said my name until the other finalists started to log off the call,” wrote Jonathan Oates ’23, another Yale winner. “Honestly, it still doesn’t feel real.”

Widely regarded as one of the most prestigious graduate awards in the world, the Rhodes Scholarship funds one to three years of study at the University of Oxford. This application cycle was the third consecutive year in which candidates were selected virtually. Huttner and Oates will join JT Mullins ’23, Veer Sangha ’23 and Henry Large ’23 at Oxford in the fall.

“As successful as they are [virtual] We certainly hope to return to in-person interviews and selection processes in cities across the country next year, as has been the case for over a century,” said the Rhodes Trust’s US secretary, Elliot F. Gerson, in one Statement for Sunday.

For the 2022 application cycle – from which winners will enroll at Oxford in 2023 – more than 2,500 students submitted initial applications to their college or university and 840 were accepted. Most of the 16 districts interview 14 or more finalists. Only 1.28 percent of all applicants received a Rhodes scholarship.

According to Gerson, Rhodes Scholars are selected in a “two-stage process”. Applicants must first be supported by their university and then apply in one of 16 US regions depending on their home state or state of their school. Each district polls its own finalists and then selects two winners, totaling 32 grant recipients nationwide each year.

Rebekah Westphal, director of the Yale Scholarship Programs Office, told the News that she begins counseling potential applicants for the Yale nomination about six months before the first deadlines, which run in early August. Additionally, Yale’s process includes multiple nominating committees—including faculty, deans, and staff—who interview each applicant. Yale nominees will enter the Rhodes process in early October.

“Our office supports students in many ways: preparing for an application, finding out who to ask for recommendations, choosing a course, interview strategy, practice interviews, etc.,” Westphal wrote in an email to the News. “Applying for Rhodes is a long but rewarding process.”

Four of Yale’s winners are interested in policy-related academics. Huttner plans to pursue a master’s degree in refugee and forced migration studies at Oxford. During her time at Yale, she found herself working as an interpreter and legal intern for immigrants. She hopes to eventually work in refugee advocacy and help shape policy to better support asylum seekers.

Mullins intends to spend his first year at Oxford with a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice, and then in his second year pursue either a master of public policy or a second master of science degree in comparative social policy.

For Large, the award will help him explore new military opportunities, particularly in Latin America. He will complete a two-year degree in Latin American Studies that will qualify him to become a foreign affairs officer in the region. In addition to his academic pursuits, Large told the news he is also looking forward to playing rugby for the Oxford team.

Deviating from an explicitly political focus, Sangha is aiming for a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Data Science. Sangha is currently a Yale major in computer science and is interested in cardiovascular health disparities and ways to incorporate artificial intelligence into patient care.

“I am excited, shocked and incredibly humbled to have been elected,” wrote Oates, who is pursuing a degree in political theory. “All of the finalists in my district were absolutely amazing. I am grateful to so many people who helped me through this – my family, the writers of my letters of recommendation, my friends, mentors and professors who helped me prepare for the interview.”

Last year, four Yale students won the Rhodes scholarship.


Anika Seth writes about admissions, financial support, and alumni, and diversity, equity, and inclusion at Yale. She also creates the weekly print edition of the News as Editor of the Production Department and is Co-Chair of Diversity & Inclusion. Anika has previously reported on STEM at Yale, specifically projects and investments for new facilities. Originally from the greater DC area, Anika is a sophomore at Branford College with dual majors in Biomedical Engineering and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

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