"It takes a village. This is not an award for me, like truly, I put some effort in here and there and I have a lot of questions and a lot of goals, but I would not be where I am without the support that I got every step of the way from when I was a kindergarten student and I had teachers that allowed me to ask my questions all the way to high school where I had a school that supported me in a school system that supported me, to college, where they fund my research efforts. And and I have mentors that come in on weekends to help me. And I hope that all students get the opportunity to have that kind of investment in them, because that's what gets you here. In America, that's not necessarily the case. There are a lot of educational inequities, racial inequities, socioeconomic inequities that make this kind of ascent really, really difficult. But if we invest in students, like anything is possible and I'm proof of that."
"I am really interested in public and global health inequities and mitigating those inequities through social welfare programs, through policies, so interested in both the health side to the international health master's and policy side through a comparative social policy approach. I also think there's just a lot to learn from how other countries have approached their problems that we in the United States could stand to learn from. And there are some generalizable aspects of global policies that every country, if we communicate, if we learn from each other, we can benefit ourselves, too."
The process to elect the U.S. Rhodes Scholars for 2021 has been completed virtually for the first time as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the globe.
The Rhodes Trust announced the 32 winners early Sunday.
Nearly 1,000 applicants were endorsed by 288 different colleges and universities to study at Oxford University in England next year.
Among the recipients is Swathi Srinivasan, a senior at Harvard University from Beachwood, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.
She told the Associated Press that she's thankful for her parents, who immigrated from India, and all the teachers and mentors that have supported her throughout her life.
"It takes a village," she said, speaking from a chemistry lab on campus. "I hope all students get that sort of investment because that's what gets you here. In America, that's not always the case. There's lot of inequities that make this kind of ascent difficult."
At Oxford, Srinivasan plans to study international health and comparative social policy.
She's interested in learning how social welfare programs can address public and global health inequities as she considers a future career in public policy.
At Harvard, her studies have focused on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the opioid crisis and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.
She's studied how places ranging from Brazil and Portugal to Massachusetts and her home state of Ohio have responded to those challenges.
"There's just a lot to learn from how other countries approach their problems," Srinivasan said.
The newly announced Rhodes Scholars include 22 students of color. Ten are Black, tying the record for most Black students elected in a single year.
Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, have winners for the first time.
The winners include 17 women, 14 men and one nonbinary person.