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Four Harvard Seniors Win Rhodes Scholarships

By Megan M. Ross
By Sonia Kim and Nina H. Pasquini, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: November 20, 2017 at 12:28 p.m.

Four American seniors at the College will receive the Rhodes Scholarship and continue their studies at the University of Oxford next October, the American secretary of the Rhodes Trust announced Saturday.

Tania N. Fabo ’18, H. Harold X. “Xavier” Gonzalez ’18, Samarth Gupta ’18, and Alan Z. Yang’ 18 will join the ranks of Harvard’s over 350 previous Rhodes Scholars in the fellowship’s 115-year history. Harvard students make up four of the 32 total American Rhodes recipients of the 2018. The prestigious scholarship traditionally pays for two to three years of study at Oxford.

Jamie J. Beaton '17, a New Zealand native, was also named a Rhodes Scholar with the program's international cohort earlier this month.

Every year, Rhodes Scholars are chosen through a rigorous process that requires applicants to seek endorsements from their college or university. According to the Trust, this year more than 2,500 students sought their institution’s endorsement—but only 866 eventually received endorsements from 299 different colleges and universities.

“Even getting the endorsement was no easy task and there was so much anticipation,” Gupta said. “It took a lot of introspection, but the process was great, win or lose, because it made me reflect on why I thought [the scholarship] would help me with my career.”

Gupta, an economics concentrator who interned with the White House Council of Economic Advisors and captained the Harvard College Running Club while an undergraduate, said he feels grateful and humbled by the award. Gupta said he plans to pursue a master’s degree in comparative social policy at Oxford.

Gonzalez, a mathematics concentrator, said the Rhodes application process was quite difficult.

“It was definitely a process, but I’m very grateful for the lessons I learned from it,” said Gonzalez, who will pursue a Master of Science by research in Mathematics at Oxford.

Gonzalez, who played for the men’s varsity tennis team and served as a Peer Advising Fellow for freshmen while maintaining a perfect grade point average during his time at Harvard, said he is looking forward to continuing his mathematical studies at Oxford. But he said he is just as excited to spend time on the school’s grass courts playing tennis.

“Graduate schools in England let their graduate students play on the tennis team,” he said. “It’s been a really valuable part of my life and I look forward to continuing it.”

Fabo, a Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology concentrator, said she was “stunned” after learning she had won the Rhodes. Fabo plans to earn a Master of Science by research in oncology at Oxford.

Fabo said she pursued premedical studies at Harvard and that she initially planned to apply for a M.D.-Ph.D. Program after graduation. But Fabo said she decided to put that plan on hold in spring 2017.

“I made a decision to take some time off and really reflect on both the research that I wanted to do and the communities I wanted to serve,” Fabo said. “That’s when a couple people told me to look into Rhodes and here I am today.”

Fabo said she is excited to promote research intended to help marginalized populations during her time in England.

“I generally have a lot of intellectual questions that I’m grappling with,” Fabo said. “I’m really excited to take the next two years to engage with both Rhodes scholars and non-Rhodes scholars at Oxford.”

Yang, who is concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a secondary in Human Anthropology, will pursue a one-year Master of Science in integrated immunology and a one-year Master of Science in migration studies while studying at Oxford.

“I wanted to take these two different perspectives of immunology and migration studies to improve the way we track and treat infectious diseases,” Yang said.

Yang said he believes his interdisciplinary studies at Oxford will help him become a “physician-scientist” who both takes care of patients and does research that has a measurable impact.

Yang thanked his professors, mentors, peers, Quincy House tutors, and Harvard’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships for helping him go through the application process successfully.

“They really supported me through this process and made [it] a really enjoyable one,” he said.

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