Three undergraduates upheld the University's longstanding tradition of dominance in this year's Rhodes scholarship competition. The three are among the 32 students nationwide who were named recipients of the prestigious scholarship late Saturday night.
The Harvard students selected are Jonathan J. Finer '99 of Winthrop House, Akash K. Kapur '98 formerly affiliated with Dunster House and Navin Narayan '99 of Adams House. The Rhodes scholarship was established in 1904 by the estate of Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes envisioned bringing students from nine beneficiary countries to Oxford, his alma mater, to promote international understanding and peace.
Three students from the University of Chicago also received the Rhodes, tying Harvard for the most recipients this year. Last year Harvard was alone at the top with four winners.
Finer, a government concentrator from Norwich, Vt., said he hopes to get either a masters degree in international relations or a second bachelors degree in philosophy, politics and economics.
Narayan, a pre-med social studies concentrator from Forth Worth, Texas said he will focus on refugee studies and international relations and obtain a masters degree in development studies.
Kapur, a social anthropology concentrator who graduated from the College last year, also intends to pursue a masters degree in development studies, according to Rhodes officials.
Students selected to receive the Rhodes must first obtain the University's endorsement. Selection committees in each state then nominate candidates to the district level where, after interviews, the final selection is made. Each district selects four recipients.
This year's scholars were chosen from 909 applicants from 310 institutions throughout the United States.
Selection for the Rhodes, the nation's oldest international study award, is based on high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others and leadership potential, said Elliot F. Gerson '74, the American secretary of the Rhodes Scholarship trust.
Finer described the selection process as "very stressful."
"The interviews are fairly rigorous," Finersaid. "They ask you a lot of very difficultquestions."
Narayan, who said he was speechless when hefound out he won, agreed that the interviewprocess was tough.
"There were some off the wall questions," saidNarayan, who is chair of the National AdvisoryCommittee of the American Red Cross. "For my finalround interview, I was asked to describe how myRed Cross service skills could help youth gaininterest in fine art and opera."
Harvard's Rhodes total is now 293. Yale andPrinceton claim 194 and 181 recipients,respectively, Gerson said.
He said it is not surprising that multiplecandidates come from selective nationalinstitutions. Gerson said national privateinstitutions may have an advantage over publicinstitutions because of the broader geographicmake-up of their student body.