Two more Yalies — one student and one recent graduate — have been chosen for Rhodes and Marshall scholarships this year, accompanying three other University affiliates who will attend graduate school in the United Kingdom under the prestigious fellowships.
The Rhodes Trust announced on Nov. 29 that Peter Merritt ’16 will represent Bermuda. As the sole recipient from the British island territory, Merritt will join Olivia Klevorn ’17, Hannah Carrese ’16 and Noah Remnick ’15 for postgraduate study at Oxford University.
The number of 2017 Rhodes scholars from Yale now equals the four selected last year, underscoring the University’s strong historical presence in and performance with the scholarship. Including this year’s scholars, the total number of Yale’s Rhodes recipients tallies 247, second only to those of Harvard University at 359.
“I was informed that I had won the award just as my extended family and I were sitting down for dinner,” Merritt said. “The Bermuda Rhodes secretary called to congratulate me and I nearly dropped my phone in shock. It probably took a solid five seconds for me to say anything to him at all.”
Merritt, who graduated this spring with a double major in economics and political science, now aims to pursue a master’s degree in politics at Oxford with a focus on comparative government. He will receive full funding for his postgraduate studies in England through the award.
In his senior thesis at Yale, the former varsity track and field athlete analyzed the conflicts between religious liberty and LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections in the United States and around the world, according to a Yale News press release.
Merritt described his finalist interview as grueling, yet rewarding.
“The committee pushed back on every sentence I said, and kept me in the room for almost an hour and 15 minutes,” he said. “It was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had, but well worth it at the end of the day.”
Merritt also joins a number of Yale-affiliated recipients in the international Rhodes competitions over the years, according to Rebekah Westphal, director of the Yale Office of Fellowship Programs. Last year, Tim Rudner ’16 was named a Rhodes scholar representing Germany.
While American and Canadian students require institutional endorsement to apply to the fellowship, those competing internationally do not, Westphal added.
“Because of my multinational background, I find foreign political institutions fascinating to study and believe that much can be gained from analyzing the world’s governments, particularly in relation to how they tackle human rights abuses,” Merritt said.
Though the name of Yale’s recent Marshall scholar has not been released, the 2017 scholar joins 12 other Yalies in the past five years. Should Yale’s Marshall scholar decline the award, alternates have also been chosen. Last year, one Yale student — Skyler Ross ’16 — received the scholarship to pursue a master’s of fine arts in creative producing at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
While the Rhodes Scholarship exclusively funds two to three years at Oxford through the 1902 bequest of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, the Marshall Scholarship is funded by the British government and provides tuition for institutions of higher learning across Great Britain, offering applicants greater flexibility in the studies they undertake.
Correction, Dec. 2: This article originally stated, in error, that the two Yale alternates for the Marshall Scholarship were from the same selection region as the Yale Marshal winner. This is not the case: the two alternates are not “alternates for the region,” nor did they compete in the same region as the winner.