Samantha “Sam” O’Sullivan, a D.C. native who currently attends Harvard University, has won the coveted 2022 Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford. O’Sullivan is now one of 32 Americans to be named a Rhodes Scholar, WUSA 9 reports, adding that this year’s class includes 22 women, the most of any class of scholars.
In 2018, O’Sullivan was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools. She maintained a 4.34 GPA while at the School Without Walls and was class president for three years.
She then went to Harvard, where she currently has a joint concentration in Physics and African-American Studies and will pursue Master’s degrees in the philosophy of physics and applied linguistics, according to WUSA 9.
The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards for American college graduates to pursue higher education at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The University of Oxford is ranked the number one university in the world, according to some global rankings.
The Rhodes Scholarships were instituted in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes. The selection process has two major stages. The first is the endorsement of the applicant by their home college or university. For the second stage, selection committees in 16 U.S. districts interview those judged to be the strongest candidates.
“The selection criteria fall into four broad categories: academic excellence; the energy to use one’s talents to the fullest; attributes such as truth, courage, kindness, and devotion to duty; and the moral force of character and instincts to lead,” according to Forbes.
The first group of American scholars admitted into Oxford under Rhodes was in 1904.
“This year’s Rhodes Scholars representing the United States–elected by 16 committees around the country meeting simultaneously–will go to England next October to study in fields across the full breadth of the University of Oxford,” Elliott Gerson, American Secretary for the Rhodes Trust, said in a press release.
“They are inspiring young leaders already, and we are confident that their contributions to public welfare nationally and globally will expand exponentially over the course of their careers in varied sectors and disciplines,” she said of this year’s scholars.
An average of $70,000 per year is given in Rhodes scholarships which covers all expenses for about two to three years, in some instances, four years of graduate study. The award recipients are not confined to the courses they can pursue. They are free to study the full range of disciplines offered at Oxford.
So far, 3,578 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships. Women were first allowed to apply in 1976, and since then 627 women have received scholarships. Former famous Rhodes scholars include former president Bill Clinton, political commentator Rachel Maddow and astronomer Edwin Hubble.