The 10 Black Americans chosen for the honor ties the 2017 record for the most Black Americans selected. Elliot F. Gerson, the American secretary of the Rhodes Trust, said this is one of the most diverse groups ever.
“This year’s American Rhodes Scholars—independently elected by 16 committees around the country meeting simultaneously—reflect the remarkable diversity that characterizes and strengthens the United States,” Gerson said in a news release Sunday. “Twenty-two of the 32 are students of color; ten are Black, equal to the greatest number ever elected in one year in the United States. Nine are first-generation Americans or immigrants; and one is a Dreamer with active DACA status. Seventeen of the winners are women, 14 are men, and one is non-binary.”
Among the winners is Danielle Grey-Stewart, a senior at MIT majoring in Materials Science and
Engineering. In addition to being a student leader at MIT’s Center for Public Service, Grey-Stewart is also the current chair of the Undergraduate Association Committee on COVID-19 and serves on the Student Advisory Group for Engineering. According to her profile, Grey-Stewart will “responsibly use the elegance of engineering to address the immense inequity within our society” and integrate historically ignored perspectives into science policy.
Shera Avi-Yonah, a senior at Harvard University, is the managing editor of the Harvard Crimson and as a reporter has broken national stories on sexual harassment and workplace abuse. Avi-Yonah has also interned for CBS News, the Sunday Times Magazine (London), as well as for the U.S. Senate
The Rhodes scholarship is widely considered the most prestigious international scholarship in the world. Recipients of this award receive a full ride to the University of Oxford in London, England, with a monthly stipend that covers accommodations and living expenses. The winners were chosen from a pool of more than 2,300 applicants. More than 950 applicants were endorsed by 288 different colleges and universities to study at Oxford University in England.
Other 2021 Rhodes Scholars winners include Brian Reyes, a 21-year-old Yale University student from the Bronx. Reyes served as president of the Yale Dominican Student Association, led an initiative to guide low-income students through the U.S. naturalization process, and was a lead organizer to ensure that
undocumented students in Connecticut could receive scholarships. Reyes also studied at a university in the Dominican Republican.
Gerson called the Rhodes Scholarships, “the oldest and best-known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.”
Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes and are provided in partnership with the Second Century Founders, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and other benefactors. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904; those elected this year will enter Oxford in October 2021.