Over the weekend, the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust revealed the names of the 32 Americans selected for the 2020 Class of Rhode Scholars, who will go to Oxford in September of next year to study in their various fields.

Among the diverse crew are two Black women who smashed ceilings at their respective schools, when they were selected for the prestigious program.

According to the Associated Press, Arielle Hudson from Tunica, Mississippi, became the first Black woman from the University of Mississippi to become a Rhodes Scholar. Some 26 Ole Miss students have been selected for the program prior to Hudson.

According to another release from the office of the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, Hudson is the president of the Black Student Union and is also a senator in the Associated Student Body Government. As her role as a senator, Hudson co-authored a resolution to remove a Confederate statue from the university’s campus.

The Ole Miss senior, who majors in English, will pursue an M.Sc. in education and an M.Sc. in Comparative Social Policy while at Oxford.

Then there is Wanjiku Gatheru, the daughter of two Kenyan immigrants, who became the first person – point-blank, period – to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Connecticut.

Gatheru, who is also a senior, is majoring in Environmental Studies, and also has minors in Global Studies and Urban and Community Studies.

As UConn notes, in 2019 Gatheru was named a Truman Scholar, as well as a Udall Scholar – the first student in the university’s history to be awarded those honors in the same year. And that is only scratching the surface of the accolades she has to her name.

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Gatheru, who has served as vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government, has also founded and led programs focusing on food insecurity and sustainability.

While at Oxford, she intends to pursue a master’s in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance, as well as a master’s degree in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation.

Eventually, Gatheru intends to continue a life in service, hoping to one day run for Congress and maybe become the first Black congresswoman from Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District, UConn reports.


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