Six Harvard students, including two blockmates, were awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship yesterday, making Harvard the leader in recipients for the fourth year in a row.
Peter P.M. Buttigieg ’04, Melissa L. Dell ’05, Sarah J. Hill ’05, Graduate School of Education student Rachel Y. Mazyck, Swati Mylavarapu ’05 and K. Sabeel Rahman ’05 were each offered two years of all-expenses paid study at Oxford University, with the possibility of a third-year extension.
This year’s awards bring Harvard’s total to 315 since the program began in the United States.
Dell and Hill are blockmates in Winthrop House and won two of the four scholarships awarded in their regional district.
Dell said she enjoyed going through the interview and selection process with a friend.
Since their final interviews occurred at the same time, Dell and Hill were sitting together as the judges announced their final decisions.
“It was amazing to be able to share that special moment with someone I had know well for the past four years,” Dell said.
The Rhodes application requires eight recommendations, a 1,000-word personal statement, an endorsement from the University and then a rigorous process of interviews at the state and district levels.
Beth Copelovitch, the fellowships tutor for Winthrop House, said that the application process is intense.
“Both Melissa [Dell] and Sarah [Hill] started their applications over the summer,” Copelovitch said. “They were writing drafts and drafts of their essay.”
Although a Rhodes Scholarship is a extensive undertaking, Dell said she enjoyed the experience.
“I knew I wanted to apply when I talked to people who had won in the past,” Dell said. “Everybody was so nice and willing to help out.”
Mylavarapu, of Mather House, also said she gained a lot from the application.
“The interview experience was fantastic in hindsight, but in the moment I was so nervous,” she said.
Many of the applicants said they saw the Rhodes Scholarship not only as an award to win, but also as an opportunity to stop and analyze their career paths. “The application process is a chance to think out what you’ve done and how you’re going to use that over the next 10, 15, 20 years,” Mylavarapu
Mather senior Rahman gives credit to those in his House and in the University who supported the applicants.
“The fellowship tutors and those at the OCS were invaluable to me,” Rahman said. “They helped on everything from essays to mock interviews. It gave us the opportunity to make our mistakes in the [mock] interviews and see what worked and what didn’t.”
Buttigieg, who lost last year in the final round, decided to try again this year using his past experience as a guide.
“The Rhodes scholarship is one that puts a premium on authenticity,” Buttigieg said. “ Above all, just go for it.”
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