Serena Alagappan ’20 and Ananya Malhotra ’20 have been selected as two of the 32 U.S. students who have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.
According to a statement from the Rhodes Trust, Alagappan and Malhotra will be part of the third consecutive class of Rhodes Scholars that are majority-minority, and roughly 50 percent of the awarded individuals are first-generation Americans.
Through a multistage process, students are awarded for outstanding academics and a commitment to leadership and service. The scholarship will provide all expenses for two or three years of postgraduate study at the University of Oxford.
Hailing from Manhattan, N.Y., Alagappan is concentrating in Comparative Literature and will pursue an M.Sc. in Social Anthropology and an M.St. in World Literatures in English. According to the statement, her “writing and research explores the ways in which identity and modes of expression shape art.”
When she had received the news about the fellowship, Alagappan said she was “speechless and overcome with gratitude.”
“My first thoughts flew to my parents and sisters, who have always been unconditionally supportive, and my teachers and professors, who have mentored and inspired me over the years,” she said. “I also thought of the many formative conversations I have had with friends, whom I love so much.”
Alagappan also serves as the editor-in-chief of The Nassau Weekly and is accomplished published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Malhotra, from Atlanta, Ga., is majoring in the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs. She hopes to complete the M.Phil. in International Relations at the University of Oxford in order to pursue her aspirations of becoming a human rights lawyer and academic.
Off-campus, she has interned at United Nations Women, where she created a program for youth gender equality activists. On-campus, she is the president of Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education (SHARE). According to the statement, her senior thesis “uses oral histories to examine the consequences of nuclear weapons testing in the American southwest.”
“I was completely shocked [upon receiving the news] and overcome with emotion and gratitude for all the people I love who have made me who I am — especially my parents and younger sister,” Malhotra said. “I owe everything to them and to my closest friends, as well as the support and guidance of my mentors, professors, and former teachers who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.”