USD graduate Joshua Arens is one of 32 students across the nation selected for the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest fellowship programs in the world.
Arens is one of ten USD students to receive the Rhodes Scholarship, which provides full financial support for scholars to pursue a degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
The Rhodes Scholarship was named for Cecil J. Rhodes, who sent the first scholar to Oxford in 1904 and from there, each year, students are chosen to receive this award based on scholarly achievements, character, and potential in leadership. There are 82 other universities and colleges across the United States that have ten or more Rhodes scholars.
“I’ve applied to a few scholarships over the years, and out of all of them, the Rhodes was the most straightforward,” Arens said. “Although I decided to apply only two weeks before the deadline, the writing process was easy enough because I wrote about things I care about, like science, the environment and politics.”
Arens majored in chemistry during his time at USD and he will be studying environmental change and management at Oxford next October.
“After spending four years at USD, I encountered many students just as deserving of this honor—if not more deserving—as I am,” Arens said. “If you’re interested in this sort of thing, apply. You might just surprise yourself like I did.”
Throughout the application process, Arens had a strong support system.
“My advisor, Susan Hackemer, encouraged me to reach out for opportunities like this and Dr. Haoran Sun let me join his research group early on, which gave me a leg up in my field,” Arens said. “On a more personal level, I did things I cared about even though they didn’t always make much sense academically or professionally. It’s in those things that you learn a lot about yourself and others.”
International director and academic advisor Susan Hackemer first became acquainted with Arens during the fall of his freshman year. Hackemer said Arens stood out early as a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship because of his talent and curiosity.
“He has an enviable ability to excel at math and science and writing, languages and music,” Hackemer said. “He is also very passionate about policy matters and governance. Through his campus roles in Student Government and as the founder of TedXUSD he gained some great practical experiences and showed leadership talents.”
Dr. Haoran Sun had Arens in class in the fall of his sophomore year and conducted organic chemistry research with him in the summer of 2016.
Sun said he enjoyed having Arens in class because of his dedication.
“He knows what his goal is,” Sun said. “That’s a really important part of any person who wants to do a good job in whatever career they choose. You have to have a goal to accomplish, then you have a driving force. He pretty much propelled himself.”
After seeing a large portion of Arens’ work, Sun said he was impressed by his motivation and maturity.
“I think this prestigious scholarship will further encourage him to study hard and work hard,” Sun said. “I believe he has the potential to further improve himself. He’s a fantastic student. The Rhodes Scholarship is an opportunity for him to improve his skills and knowledge in the future.”