The Rhodes Scholar class of 2013 was announced this week. You can read all the winners' bios here, but I'll save you the trouble. As befitting an award considered the most prestigious any college student can win, each write-up is absurd—one guy, for instance, is balancing ROTC, starting entrepreneurship programs in Africa, leading a chorus, competing in triathlons, and maintaining a sterling GPA, all while seemingly looking like a relatively normal and socially adjusted individual. People should not have these many skills. There should be a quota. (Obama, a little help here?)
Anyway, I usually have greeted the bios of the winners with seething resentment. When I passed a picture in the library of our school's winner, I pointed out his stupid haircut, and the probability that he smelled like cheese. Reading the bios online has also always been an excuse for me to say, "GUESS THAT GUY DOESN'T DRINK A LOTTA BEER." Last night, though, was different. Last night brought out a brief state of "Oh shit I have done nothing with my life?" hysteria. It was kinda concerning.
Then, I settled down, grabbed a beer (or three) from the fridge, and watched back-to-back episodes of "Duck Dynasty." This soothed me, and it put some things in perspective. Namely, that I'm totally better than these guys. Here are my justifications:
Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch
Other information: Helen graduated Cum Laude in Law and in English (Honours) and is now completing her LLB. At Stellenbosch, Hockey has taken a back seat in favour of her studies and of her interest in music. An accomplished pianist and violinist, she also teaches the violin and performs in a professional music group based in Cape Town, Camerata Tinta Barocca. Earlier this year, Helen attended a Summer School at King’s College, London, exposing her to the internal workings of the Royal Courts of Justice and the Old Bailey. This experience has confirmed her longer-term aspirations to become an advocate or a judge. Helen is keenly interested in the place of justice in law, particularly in the field of human rights law.
Two things: 1. Helen, you go to school at a gymnasium. I hate to break it to you, but I graduated from that after passing kickball and "social dance" in 8th grade. And 2. Is it possible your accomplishments are graded on a curve because you are the oldest person still taking gym classes? Could this "accomplished pianist" talk really be you being a marginal piano player, made to seem better because everyone around you is still just playing the recorder? I once beat "Enter Sandman" on expert drums in Rock Band. That was something real, and, I think, better than your skills.
Qili (Cherry) Xu
The University of Hong Kong
Other information: Cherry completed her LLB with First Class Honours, graduating first in her year, and will complete the PCLL this year. She is a senior editor of the Hong Kong Journal of Legal Studies, and represented her university in the 2012 Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Following participation in a voluntary programme at the Thai / Myanmar border, Cherry leads a media project to help raise awareness for legal and political activism in the area. For light relief, she enjoys literature, music, photography, and drawing. Her passion for law is borne of a keen sense of justice, and she hopes to develop this in the future as a barrister in Hong Kong and China.
This "light relief" business sounds a bit fishy. Has anyone ever heard of "light relief"? I think it's a made-up phrase to justify being a slacker. You know what I do? Heavy relief. Working out and such. I benched 155 the other day AND I can do a pull-up. This is not only an impressive feat of strength, it's way more hardcore than "literature" and "drawing." There's no place for light relief at Oxford.
Micah A. Johnson
Other information: Micah is a senior at Yale where he majors in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and psychology with a neuroscience concentration. Micah was elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa and won the Hunt Lyman prize as the outstanding junior at Yale intellectually and socially. His academic focus has been on brain disorders. He has done research on Parkinson’s disease and worked in Ghana to design and develop a plan to improve mental health care. He founded a program at Yale that assists in public health programs in Latin America, and is executive editor of the Yale Journal of Medicine and Law. He is also a professional magician and was the international junior champion in close-up magic.
It seems to me that Micah here, for all his seemingly impressive achievements, has a serious case of cognitive dissonance. This is somewhat sad, but it's important to break it down, so we can more fully appreciate why I am better than him. Michah is a man of science. He majors in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and (really, one more?) pyschology, with a neuroscience concentration. This on paper, is kind of amazing. BUT, he is also a "professional magician" and "international junior champion in close-up magic." Magic is not real. Magic has been proven by science to not be real. How can Michah hold these two conflicting ideologies? What is Micah doing, really, with his triple science major? Has he pulled the wool over his advisors' eyes? Is he really faking his scientific achievements? Is his thesis in alchemy? We need answers.
Until then I, as a man of character and true believer in science, am better than Micah.
Benjamine Y. Liu
Current place of residence: Westlake Village, California
University: Yale University
Other information: Benjamine graduated from Yale last year with a major in biology. He is now studying for an M.Phil. in computational biology at Cambridge University on a Mellon Fellowship. Ben also won a Goldwater Scholarship and Yale College’s highest honor, the Alpheus Henry Snow prize, for intellectual achievement and character. He has extensive public health experience, including in China, the Dominican Republic, and England, and has many publications in neuroscience. He also launched a musical and educational program in the Los Angeles County jails.
Ben here, like Michah, is a Yale guy. Yale had seven (7) Rhodes Scholar winners. Seven. We get it, Yale. You racked up this year. But you know what you Yalies didn't rack up in? Creativity in choice of college. You could have gone to N.C. State, for instance, or Memphis, both of which has never had a Rhodes Scholar. Instead, you went with the crowd and passed up the opportunity to be a hero in Raleigh or Tennessee. A hero, dammit!
Current place of residence: Brisbane, Australia
University: Queensland University of Technology / Australian National University
Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (2011) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (2012)
Other information: Andrew completed his BA with Distinction and LLB with First Class Honours in 2011. Whilst at QUT, he was awarded the Golden Key Asia-Pacific Outstanding Achievement Academic Award (2010), the Tom Cain Trophy for Outstanding Achievement (2011) (Best Mooter) and the Tom Cain Trophy for Outstanding Achievement (2011). Apart from academic study and debating, Andrew played cricket, acquired fluency in French and Japanese, conversational Spanish and a useful level of Mandarin. Having completed the GLDP at ANU earlier this year, Andrew is now working as Associate to the Hon Justice Atkinson at the Supreme Court of Queensland. Beyond Oxford, Andrew hopes practice at the Australian bar, whilst continuing to engage in research and law reform to improve the quality of criminal and human rights law.
This was difficult for me, because I actually have no idea what anything means in the first two sentences of this write-up. But then I got to the last part. "Beyond Oxford, Andrew hopes practice at the Australian bar, whilst continuing to engage in research and law reform to improve the quality of criminal and human rights law."
You're not fooling anyone. We've all seen enough movies and eaten at enough Outback Steakhouses to know what an Australian bar is. It is stocked with oil cans of Fosters, and it is not a place where law is practiced. I, for one, am shocked that Oxford would let in a keeper of a saloon.
Clayton P. Aldern
Current place of residence: Cedar
University: Brown University
Other information: Clayton is a senior at Brown where he majors in neuroscience. His work focuses on visual information processing and decision-making, and toward a better understanding of how human memory functions. Clay is also active as a peer advisor, a journalist, as editor-in-chief of a magazine of the Brown Daily Herald, and is committed to increasing scientific literacy in American culture. He also conducts research on treatment access for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury patients.
Instagram is worth $1 billion. At the time of the photo company's purchase by Facebook, New York Times' market cap was $950 million. Journalism is dead. These awards should be given instead to bloggers.
Christian H. Heller
North Dakota, 2013
Current place of residence: Beulah
University: United States Naval Academy
Other information: Christian is a senior at the United States Naval Academy, where he majors in history and minors in Arabic. He has interned at the U.S. Army War College and at the Office of Naval Intelligence. His academic work is focused to enable him to develop a broad understanding of the middle east. He is passionate about physical fitness, a marathoner and an amateur body builder; he is proud that he lost 115 pounds to attend the Naval Academy and to serve in the military. He has done submarine training, and attended the Marine Corps selection program at Quantico.
115 pounds, huh? Stretch marks don't go away, bub. (I, coincidentally, am starting to stretch this.)
Rachel R. Kolb
Other information: Rachel graduated from Stanford in English in 2012, and with a minor in human biology. She is now a candidate at Stanford for an M.A. in English. Elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa, she is managing editor of the Leland Quarterly and an opinion columnist for The Stanford Daily. She has been active with Christian ministries and in disability advocacy. She has won numerous prizes for her writing and has for two years been president of the Stanford equestrian team, representing Stanford in the national finals. She is deaf; her Rhodes interview included the use of a sign interpreter.
Wow, English major? That's gotta suck being all English.... And stuff... Won numerous prizes for writing, huh? That sucks... Deaf, too? Okay....
This is getting hard.
Evan R. Szablowski
United States Military Academy
Other information: Evan is a senior at the United States Military Academy where he majors in mathematics. He has also studied at Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco, and worked on projects encouraging entrepreneurship in Ethiopia, and on emerging markets in the Czech Republic. Evan is also a triathlete, conducts a West Point choir, and was a member of the first American team ever to win the Sandhurst military competition.
...Pretty fucking difficult...
Katie D. Whitcombe
United States Naval Academy
Other information: Katie is a senior at the United States Naval Academy where she majors in Chinese. She is tied for first is her class in academic order of merit, and is in the top 2% in overall order of merit, and is Brigade Character Development Officer. Katie’s primary interests lie in working with the peoples of the western and southwestern Pacific. She is on the varsity track and field team where she sprints and hurdles. She also plays the flute and is a dancer. She co-founded Operation Wounded Warrior on her campus, and volunteered last summer in the Philippines to work with girls victimized by human trafficking.
I've... I've got nothing. Congrats to all the winners, and I think "Duck Dynasty" is on.