Updated Monday 11:00 p.m. One Yale undergraduate and one Yale Law School student are among the 32 students nationwide to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship this year.
Ben Eidelson ’08 and Isra Bhatty LAW ’10 were selected for the award from among 764 students attending 294 different colleges and universities. Princeton, Harvard and Stanford universities as well as the University of Chicago have three winners each, in both the national and international Rhodes competitions.
Students who win receive two to three years of fully-funded study at England’s University of Oxford.
Eidelson, a political science and philosophy double major who plans to study legal philosophy at Oxford, said he is “incredibly grateful” to friends, family and professors for their support during the semester-long application process.
“Going into it I didn’t realize how much of a collective effort it is,” he said. “It really feels like sort of a collective victory.”
The Ezra Stiles resident leads the online advocacy campaign “24 Hours for Darfur” and is a public school intern through Dwight Hall at the New Haven Academy, where he coaches the school’s debate team and runs the Robotics Club.
Professors Akhil Amar and Shelly Kagan encouraged him to apply for the scholarship, Eidelson said.
Associate Director for UK and Irish Fellowships at the Yale Office of International Education and Fellowship Programs Kate Dailinger, who worked with Eidelson this semester to help prepare his application, said Eidelson’s diversity of interests made him stand out as a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship.
“His academic record is outstanding and his potential as a scholar is hard to ignore,” Dailinger said. “I think Ben will make an absolutely outstanding Rhodes Scholar. I think he will have a lot of fun at Oxford and they will enjoy having him.”
Ezra Stiles College Dean Jennifer Wood said she is “thrilled” for Eidelson and admired his dedication to social justice issues in New Haven and Darfur.
“I have no doubt that he will leave his mark on this world and will do so through innovative scholarship, spirited advocacy, tireless teaching and/or committed activism,” Wood said.
Bhatty, who did her undergraduate work at the University of Chicago, graduated with a degree in economics and near eastern languages and literature in 2006, according to a press release on the Yale Law School Web site. Bhatty worked with Chicago’s inner-city Muslim population, is interested in performing hip-hop and poetry and plans to study evidence-based social intervention, the release said.
Both Bhatty and Eidelson originally hail from Pennsylvania.
Dailinger said they think this year’s relatively low number of Yale winners— 5 Yale students won the Rhodes Scholarship last year—is mostly due to random variation from year to year.
She said the fact that the selection committee for the Rhodes Scholarship aims to choose students from a wide variety of institutions — the Scholarship’s Web site said, almost every year, a Scholar is chosen from an institution that has never had a winner before — may explain this year’s low number of winners for the University.
“I think especially after a year when there were a lot [of winners] it wouldn’t be surprising to see fewer,” Dailinger said. “It’s not that there aren’t wonderful candidates or there are not wonderful fellowship advisers. It’s just the way it goes.”
Created in 1902 in accordance with a provision in the will of De Beers diamond company founder Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Scholarships are awarded based on the criteria of academic achievement, leadership potential, integrity of character and physical vigor.