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Public Policy senior Nadine Jawad, Central Student Government vice president, has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship after competing against nominees from across the country during an intensive application and interview process.
This year, four students from the University made it to the finals — a number that Henry Dyson, director of the LSA Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, said has been unmatched any other year.
“All four of the students we nominated this year were invited to interviews: Nadine, Yiran Liu and Jonathan Williams in Chicago, Lauren Shepard in San Francisco,” he said. “In my knowledge at least, having all four nominees make it to the finals is unprecedented for U-M. It is a tremendous accomplishment even for those who didn’t win the scholarship itself.”
The Rhodes Scholarship — according to the ONSF — funds two to three years of graduate study at Oxford University across all fields of discipline, during which students are invited to pursue either a research-based or teaching-based master’s or doctoral degree. Since the scholarship’s conception in 1902, 25 University alumni have won the scholarship — a notable feat due to the fact only 32 scholars are selected from across the country each year.
Jawad described the emotions she experienced immediately after learning of her selection. She said she was overwhelmed by the immense opportunities suddenly becoming available to her due to her new status as a Rhodes scholar, especially as she has worked so hard for her family and community’s sake.
“In the moments leading up to the announcement, they began describing how hard it was to pick the winners from the group. My legs were literally shaking and my name was the first announced. I started tearing up immediately, but really was just too stunned to think. I remember thinking, ‘I’m a Rhodes scholar’ then I started thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m moving to England this year.’ It all sort of happened so fast. My mom was waiting in the lobby downstairs and I wanted to tell her in person,” she said. “When I got to her she started screaming and I started sobbing and we hugged. I then called my dad, who was waiting by the phone; we FaceTimed. In Arabic he kept saying, ‘God protects me’ and ‘Thank God,’ and he was crying so I started crying too. It was so overwhelming because everything I work for is first off for my family and then for my community and I just kept thinking about the doors that all opened in just one minute. It was like 10 minutes before I was planning what I would do when I didn’t win in terms of my future, then all of the sudden my future was secured.”
Jawad said she wants to study refugee and forced migration studies, as well as international health, during her time at Oxford. She also plans to explore Oxford’s social policy program.
Dyson emphasized Jawad’s unique talents and work ethic, and said she will come to encounter a larger network of similarly skilled leaders during her time abroad.
“Nadine is one of the brightest, most dedicated and hardest-working students that I’ve ever known at U-M. She has fully earned this recognition. One of the qualities that sets her apart is her natural ability to make effective use of mentorship and to mentor others in turn. The Rhodes Scholarship will introduce her to an even wider network of fellow leaders.”
According to Dyson, the Rhodes Scholarship receives about 1,000 nominations from universities across the country. After an initial cut is made, the remaining nominees go to regional selection committees for final interviews. Jawad described the extent of the application process, and remarked how thankful she is to have been chosen from a field of such talented scholars.
“The application process involves a 1,000-word personal statement, eight letters of rec and a university endorsement,” she said. “Finalists are then selected by the Rhodes Trust, 14 finalists in my district. At the final round you have a two-hour cocktail reception where you talk with judges and then the next day a 25-minute individual interview. Then that’s it. They deliberate and pick. Any of the people there could’ve won, and they were all incredible people. I’m overwhelmingly grateful they chose me.”
Last year, Jawad was also named the 27th University student to win the Truman Scholarship, a highly competitive scholarship for juniors who have demonstrated exceptional public service and leadership.