US Rhodes scholars selected through in-person interviews for the first time since COVID pandemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new batch of Rhodes scholars from the United States has been selected to study at the University of Oxford in a screening process that was conducted in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe in 2020.

The Office of the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust said in a statement on Saturday that the class of 32 scholars for 2024 — 20 female and 12 male recipients — is due to begin their studies in October, and it is “pleased to return to in-person interviews this year."

One winner was the first to apply through Puerto Rico.

For three consecutive years, the selection process had been carried out online.

The scholars, who are among students selected from more than 70 countries, are due to pursue graduate degrees ranging from social sciences and humanities to biological and physical sciences.

"They inspire us already with their accomplishments, but even more by their values-based leadership and selfless ambitions to improve their communities and the world," said Ramona L. Doyle, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, in the statement.

The U.S. scholars were selected by 16 independent district committees from a pool of more than 2,500 applicants. Among those applicants, some 860 were endorsed by about 250 colleges and universities. The committees then invited the strongest applicants for interviews.

The final stage of the competition involved 240 applicants from 90 colleges and universities, including 12 schools that had not previously had a student win the scholarship.

The sponsorships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a founder of the diamond mining and manufacturing company De Beers. The inaugural class entered Oxford in 1903 and the first U.S. Rhodes scholars arrived the next year, according to the website of the trust’s American secretary.

The scholarships cover all expenses for the students for two or three years of study typically, averaging about $75,000 per year, the statement said.