Thirty-two men and women from across the United States -- including two students at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. -- have been selected as Rhodes Scholars for 2008, the scholarship trust announced Sunday.
"This is the first time we have had two awards in one year," St. Olaf English Professor Jonathan Hill said. "This puts us into a very select group of colleges and universities."
Nine of this year's Rhodes Scholars attend Ivy League schools. Stanford University and the University of Chicago each have three.
The scholars were selected from 764 applicants endorsed by 294 colleges and universities. The scholarships, the oldest of the international study awards available to American students, provide two or three years of study. The students will enter Oxford University in England next October.
This year's winners include St. Olaf students Ishanaa N. Rambachan, of Apple Valley, Minn., and Nicole L. Novak, of Iowa City, Iowa.
"It's so humbling," Rambachan said. "I wouldn't be here without the professors who pushed me to apply and made me feel confident that I had a chance."
Ramabachan said she wants to study women's development in South Asia when she gets to Oxford. She would ultimately like to help improve the lives of poor women in countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Novak said she would like to study global health science at Oxford, so she can improve health in developing countries, or in immigrant communities in the United States.
Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes.
The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 13 other jurisdictions around the world. Approximately 85 scholars are selected each year.
The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the field of study. The total value averages about $45,000 per year.
With the elections announced Sunday, 3,142 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 307 colleges and universities.
(Copyright 2007 by KARE and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)