Four Indian-Americans are among 32 Americans chosen as Rhodes Scholars, the oldest and best-known award for international study. The scholars, who were selected from 963 students endorsed by 298 different colleges, will go to Oxford in September 2020 to study in fields broadly across the social, biological and physical sciences, and in the humanities.
According to a statement from the Rhodes Trust, the 2020 Class is the third consecutive class of Rhodes Scholars that are majority-minority, and roughly 50 percent of the awarded individuals are first-generation Americans. Among them are Ananya A. Malhotra and Serena Alagappan of Princeton University, Prathm Juneja of the University of Notre Dame and Kritika Singh of Northeastern University.
The scholars chosen from the U.S. will join an international group from 60 countries around the world.
Malhotra, an Atlanta native, is a senior at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Rhodes says “her research examines transnational legacies of intergenerational trauma typically excluded from nuclear history, and her senior thesis uses oral histories to examine the consequences of nuclear weapons testing in the American southwest.” As an intern at United Nations Women, Malhotra created a program for youth gender equality activists. She aspires to be a human rights lawyer and an academic. At Oxford, Malhotra will pursue M.Phil in International Relations.
Malhotra told the Daily Princetonian that she was “completely shocked [upon receiving the news] and overcome with emotion and gratitude for all the people I love who have made me who I am — especially my parents and younger sister. She continued: “I owe everything to them and to my closest friends, as well as the support and guidance of my mentors, professors, and former teachers who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.”
Alagappan, who grew up in Manhattan, New York, is a senior at Princeton majoring in Comparative Literature. Rhodes says her “writing and research explores the ways in which identity and modes of expression shape art.”
She is the president of the Princeton University American Sign Language Club and the editor-in-chief at the Nassau Weekly. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Alagappan has also interned at O, The Oprah Magazine, and the Religion and Resettlement Project where she interviewed and preserved stories of Holocaust survivors. At Oxford, she will pursue a M.Sc. in Social Anthropology and a M.St. in World Literatures in English.
“My first thoughts flew to my parents and sisters, who have always been unconditionally supportive, and my teachers and professors, who have mentored and inspired me over the years,” Alagappan told the Daily Princetonian. “I also thought of the many formative conversations I have had with friends, whom I love so much.”
Juneja, who is originally from New Jersey, is a senior at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in December with majors in political science and computer science.
Through his undergraduate studies and his work, Rhodes says Juneja “grapples with how technology and policy can work together to make government more equitable.” Also a Truman Scholar, Juneja has worked as a Legislative and Innovation Intern for the South Bend Mayor’s Office. At Oxford, he will pursue a M.Sc. in Social Data Science, as well as the Master of Public Policy.
“Notre Dame could not be prouder of Prathm Juneja because he was selected not for his scholarly achievement alone, but — in the words of the Rhodes Trust — ‘for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead,’” Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins told the Notre Dame News.
Singh, of Virginia, is a senior at Northeastern University where she majors in bioengineering. She is a Truman Scholar and a Goldwater Scholar.
Singh is founder and CEO of Malaria Free World, a non-profit focused on malaria awareness and education, and she has worked in research labs at Massachusetts General Hospital in epigenetics and at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
She has published in her field, has a patent, and founded the Northeastern University Global Health Initiative. Singh aspires to a career as physicianscientist-advocate focused on emerging diseases. At Oxford, she plans to do a D.Phil. in biomedical sciences at the intersection of chemical biology and bioengineering.
“Kritika embodies what is best about Northeastern. She has absorbed everything our university has to offer, through experience, global learning, and entrepreneurial thinking, and created her own unique path to excellence,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun. “The achievements that have earned her the Rhodes scholarship illustrate humanics in action. Kritika has integrated her data, technological, and human literacies to bring us closer to solving some of the most daunting public health issues of our time.”