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Six Harvard Students Win Rhodes Scholarships

11.23.15


The Rhodes Trust has announced that five Harvard seniors have been awarded American Rhodes Scholarships this fall. Among them, one is vice president of the Harvard Islamic Society and co-founder of the Ivy League Muslim Council, a second is pursuing Islamic studies, and a third, the son of a Syrian immigrant, is studying global human-rights institutions. The winners are:

  • Neil M. Alacha ’16, a social-studies concentrator, from Rockaway Park, New York, and Quincy House;
  • Grace E. Huckins ’16, a neurobiology and physics concentrator, from Weston, Massachusetts, and Eliot House;
  • Rivka B. Hyland, ’16, a Near Eastern languages and civilizations concentrator, from Philadelphia and Lowell House;
  • Garrett M. Lam ’16, a joint concentrator in neurobiology and philosophy, from Wellesley, Massachusetts, and Lowell House; and
  • Hassaan Shahawy ’16, a concentrator in history and in Near Eastern languages and civilizations, from Pasadena and Mather House. 

The Trust provided the following descriptions of the five winners:

Alacha is “concentrating in Social Studies. For his senior thesis, he is studying global human rights institutions and examining their effect on local practices in Jordan. He is head captain of the Harvard Mock Trial Association, and the CEO of the Harvard Model Congress, the country’s largest annual simulation of the U.S. government for high school students. Neil is also active as a peer tutor. He is the son of a Syrian immigrant and is interested in the movement for Islamic human rights.” Alacha plans to pursue an M.Phil. in modern Middle Eastern studies at Oxford.

Huckins is “concentrating in Neurobiology and Physics. Her passion is computational and theoretical neuroscience. She hopes to uncover the mathematics that govern the networks of neurons that make up the brain, and particularly those that create the thought and feelings that differentiate human beings. She has done research in neuroscience in the U.S., Japan, and France. Grace is also the Arts Chair of the Harvard Crimson, and was the President of the Radcliffe Union of Students. She has qualified several times for U.S. National and Junior Olympic fencing championships.” Huckins will pursue a D.Phil. in neuroscience.

Hyland “majors in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Islamic Studies). Her primary academic interest is the common intellectual heritage of medieval Islamic and Christian theologians. With advanced proficiency in eight modern and classical languages, she is especially interested in how medieval philosophy, with roots in ancient Greece, can offer insights into modern attitudes towards international and intercultural understanding. She is a leader in community and campus work, especially addressing the problem of sexual assault. Rivka is also captain of her intramural rowing team.” Hyland will pursue an M.Phil. in scholastic theology.

Lam is pursuing “a joint concentration in Neurobiology and Philosophy. He is interested in philosophical problems of free will, moral responsibility, and punishment, and has career interests in criminal justice reform. He is an active advocate of the effective altruism movement, was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Review of Philosophy, was one of two undergraduates on Harvard’s Committee on General Education, and is Executive Editor of the Harvard Crimson. He also holds the Guinness World Record for the longest time standing on a Swiss Ball.” He will pursue a B.Phil. in philosophy.

Shahawy “is pursuing a double major in History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He has devoted himself to working with marginalized communities to correct social injustices and improve access to opportunity, while also studying Islamic jurisprudence and global health and medicine. He worked with Los Angeles County inmates with the American Civil Liberties Union, as an intern in rural health clinics in Kenya with Vecna Technologies, and as an analyst with small-business lender Liwwa Inc. in Amman, Jordan. He has also conducted research on transplant surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and on the causes of Saudi Arabia’s private sector labor shortage at the Harvard Center for International Development. Hassaan is the Vice President of the Harvard Islamic Society and Co-Founder of the Ivy League Muslim Council. He has volunteered at the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Cairo, Egypt and mentors prison inmates in Norfolk, Massachusetts.” Shahawy will pursue an M.Phil. in Islamic studies and history.

The Harvard Crimson report on the Rhodes winners appears here.

Read the Rhodes announcement, and short biographies of all 32 winners from the United States, at links provided by the Rhodes Trust website.

 

An Australian Rhodes was subsequently awarded to Yen Pham ’15, a second-semester senior in Dudley House concentrating in English.

The Rhodes Trust described Pham as follows:  “A John Harvard Scholar, she completed a thesis on representations of female experience in contemporary literature. Yen has a broad range of academic, creative and social justice interests that often intersect. She interned at the Harvard College Women’s Center. In 2014 she worked at n+1 magazine and served as fiction editor of the Harvard Advocate, where she championed issues of inclusivity and diversity in the arts. She has hosted a radio show on WHRB 95.3FM, interned at an education non-profit in New York, served as an overnight shift volunteer at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, and co-led a Habitat for Humanity trip to Decatur, Alabama. Before transferring to Harvard, she volunteered for many years with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. She speaks Vietnamese, French and Italian. At Oxford, she will pursue an M.St in English (1900-Present) and an M.St in Film Aesthetics.”

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