By PHILIP MARCELO and DEEPTI HAJELA
BOSTON (AP) — The latest crop of U.S. Rhodes scholars has more women than any other single class, and almost half of this year’s recipients of the prestigious scholarship to Oxford University in England are either immigrants or first-generation Americans, the Rhodes Trust announced on Nov. 18.
Among the 32 winners is Harvard University senior Jin Park, the first recipient covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era program that shields young immigrants from deportation.
Park, 22, of the New York City borough of Queens, arrived from South Korea with his parents when he was 7, studied molecular and cellular biology at Harvard, and founded a nonprofit to help undocumented students apply to college.
He hopes to become an immigrant advocate, saying it’s important for him to use the opportunity to better others, not just himself.
“When you grow up as an undocumented immigrant in America, that understanding that your talents don’t really belong to you in the traditional sense, that you have to share the fruits of your labor with others, that’s just something you learn,’’ Park said.
Serene Singh, a University of Colorado senior is the first woman from the school to win a Rhodes scholarship and the first Sikh American to be selected for the honor. She plans to pursue master’s degrees in criminology and criminal justice and evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation at Oxford.
Alaleh Azhir, a 21-year old senior at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, emigrated from Iran when she was 14 — and is also one of 21 female scholars named. The New York City resident hopes eventually to become a doctor and will study women’s and reproductive health at Oxford.
“I’m just a passionate advocate for women in general and that’s mostly because of my background,’’ she said. “I thought that the way I could advocate for women could be by advocating for their health.’’
The U.S. Rhodes scholars join a separate, international group of scholars representing more than 60 countries.
Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for at least two years of study at Oxford. They were created in 1902 in the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British businessman and Oxford alum who was a prime minister of the Cape Colony in present-day South Africa.