For the first time in the history of the University, two students were awarded Rhodes Scholarships in the same academic year. Trinity senior Eric Greitens and Adam Russell, Trinity '95, received the scholarship this weekend, marking the third consecutive year that University students have won the award.
"I think that this is a great sort of change for the University," said Richard White, dean of Trinity College. "This is a new streak for Duke."
White said that these awards signal not only an overall improvement in the quality of the student body, but also an increased sense of initiative on the part of students.
Greitens and Russell were two of 32 Rhodes scholars selected from a nationwide applicant pool of 1,041 students. They will spend two years studying at Oxford University in England. The scholarship program supports students from the United States and 18 other countries.
Prospective scholarship recipients are judged on several criteria, including scholastic achievements, athletic endeavors, strength of moral character, leadership ability and compassion for others.
To compete for the prestigious scholarship, students must submit an extensive written application and then go through state and regional interviews, which Greitens called "unexpectedly fun."
A Program II ethics major, Greitens said that he plans to enroll in the philosophical theology masters program while at Oxford. Speaking about the actual application process, Greitens said he thought that it was more than beneficial. "It helped me think through a lot of important questions about what I want to do in the future," he said.
Greitens said that after his two-year tenure at Oxford, he hopes eventually to be a leader in a non profit humanitarian organization. Greitens served during the summer of 1994 as a volunteer in Croatian refugee camps with the Project for Unaccompanied Youth in Exile, an international humanitarian endeavor to help Bosnian Muslim refugees. Greitens has also served as a humanitarian volunteer in Rwanda and China.
Russell said that, for him, the application process involved a broad spectrum of experiences. "It ranged from the truly aesthetic, almost the divine, to a kidney stone," he said.
He said that he has thought about applying for the scholarship ever since his senior year of high school. Russell, a cultural anthropology major, said that he hopes to continue the same course of study while at Oxford. Russell's honors thesis centered on anthropological and chaos theories, bodybuilding and physical fitness gyms.
On a less serious note, Russell said he also hopes to study Oxford's "turf." A four-year member of the rugby team, Russell said that Oxford's team could certainly use an "infusion of new blood."
Members of the University community said they were "thrilled" with Greitens and Russell's successes. "[Russell] will bring a splendid mind to Oxford," said Reynolds Price, James B. Duke professor of English to whom Russell is currently an assistant. "He's a tremendously amicable, witty and compassionate human being. They'll be lucky to have him for two or three years." Price is a former recipient of the scholarship.
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Greitens and Russell are the 24th and 25th Rhodes Scholars selected from the University since the scholarship program was established at the turn of the century.