November 28th, 2012 | University

Yalie wins international Rhodes scholarship

Yale’s record-breaking delegation of seven Rhodes scholars to Oxford next fall will be joined by one more student — the winner of an international Rhodes from Germany.

Ela Naegele ’13, a German international student studying history and philosophy, was awarded the German Rhodes scholarship this weekend, bringing the grand total of this year’s Rhodes delegation from Yale up to eight. Naegele plans to study modern British and European history at Oxford, while also focusing on theories of international law.

“Gratitude is my dominant feeling,” she said of her reaction upon receiving the award. “I was happiest right after the interview — it felt as though I had just completed a musical performance, in which I had connected to the audience and had filled the room with a certain aura.”

Naegele said her academic interest in history stems from fundamental questions about how to improve oneself, as well as society at large. History provides the answer to these questions, she said, because through history, one can “understand why we are here and understand the present,” constructing a narrative that allows for the pursuit of a better future.

As for her interest in law, Naegele called the development of international law “intellectually thrilling and politically important.” She added that it “promises to pave a path towards improving and saving countless human lives.”

After Oxford, Naegele said she would like to practice law as well as teach and research.

“Eventually, I would like to be a professor,” she said. “I’d love to teach, and I’ve always loved it — ever since I taught my sister how to read.”

Naegele has been involved in the Yale community as president and treasurer of the German Community of Yale Undergraduates and co-president of the Young Israel House. The intellectual and social “focus point” of her undergraduate years, she said, has been the Jewish community, especially at the Joseph Slifka Center.

In addition to her studies, Naegele said she looks forward to the vibrant musical scene abroad. She comes from a musical background and has studied French horn, piano and music theory at institutions around the world.

The German Rhodes is only awarded to two students a year. Applicants — who have to hold German citizenship — must adhere to both the general Rhodes selection criteria and application criteria specific to Germany.