Three outstanding seniors have been endorsed by West Virginia University for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest and most celebrated international awards in the world.
Sundus Lateef, Colin Lopez and Dillon Muhly-Alexander are all students in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences who have made their mark on campus through academics, leadership and service.
“Applying for a competitive Rhodes Scholarship is rigorous, but our three candidates succeeded in presenting unique, impressive and clear-minded plans how post-graduate work at Oxford University will help them meet their professional goals,” said Katherine Aaslestad, Rhodes faculty advisor and professor of history.
“Each is an outstanding student, but more importantly have clear visions of how studies, leadership and empathy will affect positive change locally, here in West Virginia and globally. They have worthy ambitions, but Sundus, Dillon and Colin also have the drive to accomplish them.”
Each year 32 young students from the United States are selected as Rhodes Scholars not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.
WVU has produced 25 Rhodes Scholars since 1904.
“Being endorsed by the University for the Rhodes Scholarship is in itself quite an honor, as applicants�not only work for months on their applications but must also impress the campus Rhodes committee during an hour long interview about their plans at Oxford and beyond,.” said Amy Cyphert, director of ASPIRE which assists students in seeking nationally competitive scholarships.
Lateef of Bridgeport is an Honors College student double majoring in biology and chemistry. A Foundation Scholar, she conducts laboratory research on genetic and infectious diseases, served as president and vice president of WVU’s service honoraria, mentored chemistry students, and volunteered at local soup kitchens and nursing homes.
Her research, which she has published and presented multiple times, focuses on liver disease and high fructose consumption. At Oxford, she plans to investigate the clinical implications of new vaccines and therapies which�reduce disease prevalence in large populations by pursuing a doctor of philosophy in zoology.
“Oxford leads a coalition of universities and government agencies in the fight to control hepatitis C virus infections in the United Kingdom, where they are producing new vaccines and testing viable treatments in the population,” she said. “Hepatitis C virus infections are very common in West Virginia. So by learning from these experts, I can bring back solutions that will help our state in the future.”
Lopez of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is an international studies major with an emphasis in international business. Also an Honors College student, Lopez was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Morocco and also won a Boren Scholarship to study Arabic while working at the United Nations Refugee Agency as a coordination intern in Jordan.
Lopez was a global health intern in Panama, and also travelled abroad to Brazil and Honduras to assist healthcare professionals in providing services to isolated communities there. He is currently a research assistant in WVU’s geography department researching food security in West Virginia. A member of the WVU Men’s Lacrosse Team, he plans to earn an MBA and a master of science in international health and tropical medicine�from Oxford.
“WVU has proven to be an amazing place for pursuing my dream of becoming a physician,” Lopez said. “The encouragement from my professors has truly helped me become a better student and clarify my career goals.
“In particular, working as a research assistant in the Food Justice Lab in the geography department has prepared me to conduct quality research at Oxford.”
Muhly-Alexander of Doddridge County, is an international studies major with an emphasis in development studies He is a Foundation Scholar, Honors College student, president of the WVU Young Democrats and president of WVU’s Our Children, Our Future student chapter.
Muhly-Alexander worked in the Senate President’s Office of the West Virginia Legislature as a Judith Herndon Fellow and interned in the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. He has been a researcher with WVU’s FoodLink program and was part of the WVU group that was the first American study abroad program to Timor-Leste.�He plans to pursue a master of philosophy in development studies at Oxford, focusing on the study of multi-dimensional poverty and food security.
“My experience at WVU has been incredible and has prepared me for the work I would do at Oxford. I have conducted research on food insecurity in West Virginia, studied abroad three times in three continents and worked in the West Virginia legislature,” Muhly-Alexander said.
ASPIRE’s Cyphert said the committee was impressed with the candidates’ academic and humanitarian qualifications. “Sundus, Colin and Dillon each meet and surpass the four�criteria that Cecil Rhodes laid out in his will many years ago when he created the Rhodes Scholarship: they are accomplished scholars, energetic young people, devoted to improving the world, and forceful leaders.
“I�have no doubt that each will go on to, in the words of Cecil Rhodes, ‘fight the world’s fights.’,” she said.
A district committee will review the applicants during October.
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