Three Yale students and alumni were awarded Rhodes Scholarships this year for postgraduate study at Oxford University.
Olivia Klevorn ’17, Hannah Carrese ’16 and Noah Remnick ’15 are among the 32 American recipients of the prestigious fellowship, selected from a pool of 882 applicants from 311 different colleges and universities nationwide. The number of Yale-affiliated Rhodes scholars selected repeats last year’s performance — when three Yalies won — and maintains the University’s strong history with the scholarship. Yale had four U.S. winners in both 2015 and 2014, and boasts the second-highest number of U.S. winners in total, second only to Harvard University.
The Rhodes Trust, which oversees the fellowship, announced the most recent class of scholars on Nov. 19.
Rebekah Westphal, director of the Yale Office of Fellowship Programs, said this year’s recipients were clear embodiments of what the Rhodes selection team were looking for in scholars: “energy to use one’s talents to the full, truth, courage, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship, moral force of character and instincts to lead.”
“All three winners this year were superb,” Westphal said. “They all had a very clear sense of what it meant for them to be ‘fighting the world’s fight’ and how they might be a part of that.”
Westphal added that every Yalie who made it to the final interview stage was “of extraordinary caliber.”
Klevorn, a Chicago native and the only winner currently enrolled at Yale, majors in anthropology and plans to complete a doctorate in socio-legal studies at Oxford. Klevorn has focused her academic work at Yale on “disinvestment in low-income minority communities and the resultant inequality in homeownership.”
On campus, Klevorn directs the Heritage Theatre Ensemble, a group that is dedicated to staging black artists’ work, and leads the spoken-word group, WORD.
Klevorn said she did not take the process too seriously, explaining that it is meaningless to set one’s self-worth on winning the competitive award and noting that this attitude made the process much easier to navigate.
She added that the award has given her a newfound sense of purpose and mission, as well as the chance to bring real change to the world.
“My only hope is that I can bring whatever I learn back to the United States in order to work with and empower communities that have been historically oppressed,” Klevorn said.
Carrese, who is from Colorado Springs, Colorado, graduated from Yale last spring with a degree in humanities and will pursue a master’s degree in politics at Oxford.
Carrese said she was shocked and excited, but mostly overwhelmed with gratitude, adding that it had been a joy to share the win with her family, friends and professors.
Carrese is currently working with refugees in Mexico this year through the Yale Parker Huang Fellowship, completing research on the nature of political language surrounding the term “refugee” as migrating populations change in the current century. Carrese said she was inspired to do her work by her study of Thucydides, whose classic “The History of the Peloponnesian War” prominently features the breakdown and shifting of language in times of political duress.
“I suppose the best thanks I can give the Rhodes for their trust in me is to carry with me the lessons I’ve learned at Yale: to be a constant voice for human rights, and for the humanities, at Oxford and throughout my life,” Carrese said.
Remnick, a New York City native, graduated from Yale in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in history and will pursue a master’s degree in American history and a master’s degree at Oxford. While at Yale, Remnick wrote for and led several campus publications, receiving multiple awards for his writing including the Wallace Prize for nonfiction.
Remnick is covering politics and the New York metro area for The New York Times, and has covered stories that have provoked reforms in city inspection programs and police policy.
According to Westphal, Yale applicants go through a process in which faculty and deans interview the applicants before they receive the University’s endorsement for consideration by the Rhodes selection committee.
Once these decisions are made, Yale students’ applications are then submitted to the 16 different Rhodes geographical districts with letters of institutional endorsement. The scholarship’s organizers select finalists for interviews, which take place over a two-day period in various cities around the country. Winners are notified immediately following deliberations.