UW Madison student selected as Rhodes Scholar

After an intense selection process, a Wisconsin college student will receive one of the highest honors in international higher education and scholarship. Alexis Brown, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been named one of the United States’ 32 Rhodes Scholars this year.

Brown is an English and history major who applied for the scholarship to complete a master’s degree in English language and literature. She is the first Rhodes Scholar to be selected from UW-Madison since 2000.

The Rhodes Scholarship is a prestigious award that pays for students to study for two to three years at Oxford University in England. According to the Rhodes Scholar website, the goal of the scholarship is to develop outstanding leaders who will be motivated to fight ‘the world’s fight,’ make public duties their highest priority and promote international peace.

UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward released a statement offering congratulations to Brown for winning one of the most prestigious honors in higher education.

“In her, we see the makings of a gifted scholar who will be an effective voice for the humanities within academia and beyond,” he said in the statement.

Mary McCrindle, communications manager for The Rhodes House, said the “Wardens of the Trust” (those who head the Rhodes Scholars’ operations) award scholarships to exceptional young individuals who demonstrate great capacity for leadership and public service.

The U.S. is divided into 16 “constituencies,” each of which chooses two applicants to receive the award. In all, there are 82 Rhodes scholars from 19 countries.

To apply, students must submit paper application materials including a resume and transcripts, as well as complete two interviews. Winners are announced after the last round of interviews.

Marquette has never had a student chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar. However, students have been the recipients of other prestigious national and international awards in the past, such at the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for students studying the natural sciences and the Fulbright Award for students in all areas of study.

Bill Donaldson, the associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, also advises students who apply for the Barry W. Goldwater Scholarship. He said students who apply for prestigious undergraduate scholarships such as the Goldwater are shifting toward applying for those that support graduate study, like Rhodes does.

“In the past there has been more interest in the fellowships which support undergraduate study,” Donaldson said. “However, I think that we are beginning to see more interest in applying for the scholarships which support graduate study.”

Christopher Frenier, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, is a current recipient of a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, which funded his year studying abroad in Germany. Frenier said the award helped fund one of the most important experiences of his college career.

“Studying in Marburg gave me a new perspective on learning and my own culture and has inspired me to pursue further academic opportunities abroad,” he said. “Just knowing that there are organizations and opportunities out there like DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) is encouraging when planning post-graduate studies and thinking about what your options are.”