Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars reflect and look ahead

From beginning graduate school to entering the workforce, this upcoming year will be one of change for members of the Class of 2015. For the handful of seniors who were named Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars earlier this year, it will be a year of unprecedented opportunity.

Ridwan Hassen ’15 and Colin Walmsley ’15 will begin studying at Oxford University with full scholarships after being named Dartmouth’s 77th and 78th Rhodes Scholars, respectively. Maia Salholz-Hillel ’15, Emily Estelle ’15 and Jake Levine ’15 will conduct research or teach abroad as Fulbright scholars.

Hassen, of Marietta, Georgia, began his college education at Emory University but transferred to the College in the fall of 2013, studying computer science and neuroscience. He is the first United States citizen from Dartmouth to win a Rhodes Scholarship since Gabrielle Emanuel ’10.

During his undergraduate years, he conducted research on autism at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, served as an undergraduate advisor and Collis Center manager and was involved in the Dartmouth Endurance Racing Team and First-Year Student Enrichment Program. He will pursue a degree in public policy at Oxford University.

Walmsley, of Fort Macleod, Canada, is an anthropology and government double major. He recently completed a thesis for each department. He wrote his anthropology thesis about how LGBTQ homeless youth create community, and in his government thesis he analyzes state responses to secessionist movements.

Walmsley plays for the men’s rugby team and was named an Academic All-American by USA Rugby for the 2013-14 season. He also hosted a weekly radio show on 99 Rock and sang with the Brovertones a cappella group.

He said his family was with him when he was notified that he received a Rhodes Scholarship.

“It was definitely a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Walmsley said. “More than anything, I was overwhelmed by the support I received from everyone who helped me get where I am today.”

At Oxford, Walmsley will continue to study anthropology.

“I’m really excited to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures,” he said. “I find that you learn more about yourself and the world when you interact with people with different backgrounds than yourself.”

Last year, two seniors, Jonathan Pedde ’14 and Joseph Singh ’14, received Rhodes Scholarships. They were the first to win the award and represent the College since Emanuel won in 2010.

After receiving a Fulbright U.S. Student grant, Salholz-Hillel will study neuroscience in Berlin. She plans on completing a Masters degree at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and conducting research in a lab about decision making.

With her experience as a tutor for RWIT, Estelle will be an English teaching assistant in Morocco. She said she is most excited to join a community at a university and to start building a sense of home for herself.

“I can’t wait to feel like more of a local than a tourist,” Estelle said.

Levine will use his Fulbright grant to work as an English teaching assistant in Colombia for a year. During his junior winter, Levine traveled to the Marshall Islands to teach algebra and coach rugby as a part of the College’s Volunteer Teaching Program.

He said he cannot imagine any other way he would like to spend his first post-graduate year than teaching in Colombia and immersing himself in Latin American culture.

“It is incredibly exciting and humbling in a lot of ways,” Levine said.

As a pre-med student, Levine will also work in a health clinic in a hospital during his time in Colombia. After completing the scholarship program, he said he plans attend the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Despite the slight change in work for these three seniors, the settings will be familiar territory. Salholz-Hillel visited Germany before coming to Dartmouth and spent her freshman summer there as well.

Estelle participated in foreign study programs in Morocco for two abroad terms. Because of his travel experience in Latin America and his Spanish and Portuguese major, Levine decided to work in Colombia.

In order to win their scholarships, all of the seniors needed to complete their respective programs’ application along with the required interviews.

For the Rhodes Scholarship, students complete the application but only move on to the second round if their respective universities select them as their nominees. From there, the Rhodes Trust chooses the semi-finalists from the 16 districts representing the United States, who must complete another interview before reaching a final decision. Per district, 15 applicants are interviewed and only two finalists are chosen.

The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The J.W. Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board awards grants to over 1,500 American students and recent graduates per year. Last year, 11 seniors received Fulbright grants.

In addition to these five graduating seniors, there are four alumni who were also named scholars this year. Miriam Kilimo ’14 was named a Rhodes Scholar while Georgia Travers ’13, Ellen Nye ’14 and Zachary Wenner ’10 were named Fulbright Scholars.

Although this year’s graduating Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars are excited for their upcoming experiences, they all said they will miss something about Dartmouth.

As a member of the College’s equestrian team, Estelle said in addition to missing her friends and professors, she will also miss the horses at Morton Farm.

Walmsley said he will miss the people and collaborative atmosphere at Dartmouth as well as Hanover’s beautiful landscape.

“I don’t think you could find a better group of people than you’ll have at Dartmouth,” he said.

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