Two Duke seniors were named Rhodes Scholars on Sunday.
Shreyas Hallur was of 32 students selected from a pool of 840 U.S. applicants for the prestigious scholarship, while Qi Xuan Khoo won the program’s only scholarship for Malaysian citizens. The scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
“I am thrilled to congratulate Qi Xuan Khoo and Shreyas Hallur on this extraordinary honor, a reflection of their commitment to academic and research excellence and leadership,” said Duke President Vincent Price in a release. “We can all be tremendously proud to call them fellow members of the Duke community, and I look forward to following their careers in the years ahead.”
Hallur, a statistics and public policy major, plans to continue his passion for healthcare reform by studying medical anthropology and evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation at Oxford.
He wrote in an email that he went into the application process with such limited expectations that he felt like “a deer in the headlights” when his name was announced on the scholarship’s Zoom call.
At Duke, Hallur has worked with the Duke Disability Alliance, Duke Student Government and Neurodiversity Connections to advocate for more accessibility for neurodivergent students. A student researcher for the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, Hallur has also made strides in making STEM education more inclusive for autistic children, having won a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for his work at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.
It was this passion for accessibility that first brought the Rhodes Scholarship to his attention after looking into the United Kingdom’s approach to autism care, which he describes as “actively [involving] autistic people in the decision-making process.”
“I wanted to learn more about this unique culture as a student in the UK and the Rhodes scholarship would really allow me to pursue these studies at one of the UK’s best institutions - Oxford!” he wrote.
Khoo, a Karsh International Scholar from Malaysia pursuing a double major in economics and computer science with a minor in mathematics, applied for the Rhodes Scholarship because he wants to leverage his “experience and academic training” to serve his home community.
When he received the offer, he was at a loss for words.
“Never in my wildest dreams have I ever thought that I would receive the scholarship... I'm truly humbled and grateful beyond words — Soli Deo gloria,” he wrote.
At Oxford, he plans to research human capital development in developing countries from the policymaker's perspective.
“I hope to see myself pursuing a path towards becoming a mixture of a policymaker, researcher and technology leader in my home region,” he wrote.
At Duke, Khoo has conducted research investigating Medicare fraud, analyzing local COVID-19 policy and building a data pipeline for domestic violence shelters in North Carolina.
Khoo also co-founded and leads Technify, an initiative that connects tech talents at American colleges with nonprofits and social enterprises across the developing world through pro bono tech projects. Khoo and his team have launched 20 projects with seed funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Mission to Southeast Asia, matching more than 80 volunteers with nonprofits from Malaysia, Panama, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia.
Duke and Duke Kunshan University combined have now had 55 Rhodes Scholars.
Jamal Burns and Kendall Jefferys, both Trinity ‘21, were Duke’s 51st and 52nd recipients in 2020. In 2021, Ege Kaan Duman, Duke Kunshan University ‘22, was named a Rhodes Scholar for the Global Constituency.
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Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Audrey Wang is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.