Four Indian Americans among 2024 Rhodes Scholarship winners


Four Indian American students have been selected from a pool of 840 applicants from 70 countries to join the ranks of Rhodes Scholars Class of 2024 at the University of Oxford. Mrinalini S Wadhwa, Suhaas Bhat, Nayantara K Arora and Aishani Aatresh are among 32 scholars selected via in-person interviews for the first time since the Covid pandemic, and will begin their graduate studies in October 2024.

Wadhwa of New York City, is a senior at Columbia University where she majors in History and Mathematics.

She co-founded a program providing a three-year English curriculum for low-income Indian students in New Delhi. At Oxford, she will pursue an M Phil in Modern European History.

Bhat from Wisconsin is a senior at Harvard University majoring in Social Studies and Physics. He co-founded an organization at Harvard that provides peer-facilitated group psychotherapy to students.

He will pursue an MSc in Mathematical Modeling and Scientific Computing and an MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine.

Arora from Portland is a senior at the University of Oregon, Clark Honors College, where she majors in Neuroscience, with minors in Global Health and Chemistry.

She conducts research in two areas: global health biomarkers in Tunisia and the relationship between the vasculature and Alzheimer’s disease.

Currently an intern with the State Department, Arora produces a podcast dedicated to uplifting immigrant youth stories, plays the violin, and loves learning new languages.

She will pursue an MSc in Modeling for Global Health and an MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine at Oxford.

Aatresh from California is a senior at Harvard College where she is majoring in complex biosocial systems.

During the global pandemic, she worked with the New York City health and hospital system emergency response and then undertook studies to understand the dynamics of Covid-19 with the global Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

At Oxford, she plans to complete an MPhil degree in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance.

“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.

According to Forbes, this year’s class of 32 students was dominated by Harvard University, which saw nine of its graduates selected for the award. With the latest selections, 3,642 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 327 colleges and universities.

The Rhodes Scholarship is a fully funded, full time graduate fellowship awarded by the University of Oxford since 1903. The selected scholars can come to the UK for two or more years and can apply to study most full-time postgraduate courses offered by Oxford University. The total value of the scholarship averages about $75,000 per year and can reach up to as much as $250,000 for scholars who remain at the university for four years in certain departments.

Famous Rhodes Scholars from India include:
Gautam Bhatia (India & Balliol 2011)
Gautam Bhatia is a lawyer and scholar of constitutional law, science-fiction author and news columnist. Co-ordinating editor of ‘Strange Horizons’ and Author of ‘The Wall’ and ‘The Horizon’, his writing often explores themes of liberty, autonomy and equality.

Dr Menaka Guruswamy (India & University 1998)
Dr Menaka Guruswamy is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. She was on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of 100 most influential Global Thinkers for 2019, and with Arundhati Katju on TIME Magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people for their work on the decriminalisation of homosexuality. She has been published in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the American Journal of International Law, and the Indian Express.

Neel Mukherjee (India & University 1992)
Neel Mukherjee divides his time between London and the US, where he teaches at Harvard. He is the author of several critically-acclaimed novels, including ‘A Life Apart’ and ‘The Lives of Others’. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018.

Sanjay Chauhan (India & Worcester 1988)
Sanjay Chauhan is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Pan Am Equities, a New York City wealth management firm specializing in real estate and dedicated to generational growth by meeting future challenges with technology-driven solutions. Prior to this role he led a successful career in green real estate development, serving as CFO at Jonathan Rose Companies, LLC. While studying at Oxford, he made six appearances in first-class cricket for Oxford University in 1989-90.

Sagarika Ghose (India & Magdalen and St Antony’s 1987)
Sagarika Ghose is a journalist, columnist and author. She has written biographies of Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the polemical work ‘Why I Am A Liberal’, and two novels. In 2004, she became the first woman to host Question Time India. She is currently a columnist with The Times Of India and a TV commentator.

Dr Rukmini Banerji (India & Balliol 1981)
Dr Rukmini Banerji is the CEO of the Pratham Education Foundation, an innovative learning organisation founded to improve the quality of education in India. She has played a key role in designing large scale partnerships with state governments in India to improve children’s learning outcomes. In 2021, she was awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Development, the world’s highest education accolade.

Girish Karnad (India & Magdalen 1960)
Girish Karnad was an actor, film director and playwright who often used history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues. He was a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour conferred in India.

Tanjore Ramachandra Anantharaman (India & Trinity 1951)
Tanjore Ramachandra Anantharaman was one of India’s pre-eminent metallurgists and materials scientists, with 250 publications to his credit. He received the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Metallurgy from the Indian Union Ministry of Steel and Mines in 2004.

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