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Aspiring Astronaut Named Rhodes Scholar

Shazrene S. Mohamed ’04 is seventh Harvard student to receive honor this year

Shazrene S. Mohamed ‘04
Shazrene S. Mohamed ‘04
By Elise M. Stefanik, Contributing Writer

Shazrene S. Mohamed ’04, an astrophysics concentrator from Kirkland House, has been named a 2004 Rhodes Scholar.

One of seven Harvard students to receive the prestigious scholarship this year, Mohamed will study at Oxford University to earn her Ph.D. in astrophysics.

Four of her American classmates were awarded the scholarship in November, making Harvard the leader in the number of scholarships for the third straight year.

Two more Harvard students from Kenya were notified of their acceptance in December.

A native of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Mohamed was interviewed in Harare, Zimbabwe on Dec. 5, 2003 and notified that day of her scholarship.

Last year, Mohamed was the 2003 recipient of the Leo Goldberg prize for the best astrophysics junior thesis.

She is also active in a variety of extracurriculars at Harvard, as an officer of STAHR—a student run astronomy club which organizes classes at the Loomis Michael Observatory at the Science Center—a dorm crew captain and a coxswain for IM crew. Mohamed said she also enjoys Tae Kwon Do.

The Rhodes Scholarships are endowed through the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist, who founded the honor in 1902.

Applicants are selected on the basis of several criteria—high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.

According to the Rhodes Trust, these qualifications are directed at fulfilling Cecil Rhodes’ hope that Rhodes Scholars should “esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.”

Mohamed said that during her final interview she was asked several science-related questions—ranging from general topics to “the particulars of radio astronomy.”

Other questions addressed her view on life in Zimbabwe.

Mohamed said she responded to questions about how she would act in a position of power in Zimbabwe. She said that she would address the current political and economic situation optimistically.

“Zimbabwe is a country full of great, strong, talented people,” she said. “I know that we will overcome this suffering and realize our full potential.”

She felt that what set her apart from the other applicants was her unique field of study and her dream to become an astronaut, she said.

Approximately 95 Scholars are selected worldwide each year, 32 of whom are chosen from the United States.

The Rhodes Trust awards each Scholar full funding to attend Oxford University, a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford and transportation to and from England.

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