OXFORD -- A University of Virginia fourth year student from Oxford has been named a Rhodes Scholar. The announcement was made last week by Elliot Gerson, the American secretary of the Rhodes Trust.
Evan Barrett Berhle, 21, has been named one of 32 students nationwide to receive an all-expense paid scholarship courtesy of what is widely considered the most famous and prestigious award available for American college students. He will spend two to three years at Oxford University in England studying public policy and political theory. Successful completion of the program will earn him a master’s degree in philosophy in political science.
“I would very much like to be involved in public policy for American cities with poverty like Camden, Detroit and Chester,” he said.
At this time, Barrett Behrle is the chair of the Honor Committee at Virginia. The school has a long and historical background with student government beginning with its founder, Thomas Jefferson. The student-run Honor Committee oversees the system which deals with all the cases of stealing, lying and cheating on the campus.
Last year, according to his mother, Colleen Barrett, also spent time with studies in Africa.
Barrett Behrle is a graduate of Gilman School in Baltimore, which he attended as a commuting student from Oxford during his high school years. As a high school senior, he received acceptances and full scholarship offers from Yale University and Virginia. He chose the offer of the Jefferson Scholarship from Virginia , he said, because he was inspired by what he heard from a former University of Virginia Jefferson Scholar.
“She gave a speech about what it meant to her, and I wanted to be part of a community connected with that,” he said.
The Rhodes Scholar program was created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer Cecil Rhodes. According to the announcement published by the Trust, the first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford (University) in 1904.
Applying for a Rhodes Scholarship is complex. The students must first be endorsed by their college. According to the Rhodes Trust press release, 1,750 students sought their institutions’s endorsement and 857 were endorsed by 327 different colleges and universities.
The Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts then invites the strongest applicants to appear for interviews. Additionally, Barrett Behrle said, he had to provide at least eight references and write a 1,000 word essay.
“These criteria are high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor,” the announcement said.
Barrett Behrle said the nation’s 16 districts cover clusters of states. He and Alexander Wang of Doylestown, a student at New York University’s Abu Dhabi class, are the pair chosen from District 4, which includes West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
When he was asked what it takes to be a Rhodes Scholar, he said they look for people who are passionate about the wider world and have the potential for leadership.
Although he lives in Oxford, he said he spent much of his time commuting to school in Baltimore and is disappointed that he didn’t become part of the community.
“I love going home to Oxford though; the people are all so kind,” he said.
He added that he has a strong interest in astronomy and likes to look out over the farmland in the Oxford area, identifying the stars and constellations.
In addition to his mother, Barrett Behrle has a sister who teaches in Baltimore and a brother who lives in California. HE is the youngest of the three siblings.