Alumna Wins Rhodes Scholarship

Rachel Mazyck ’02, now studying at Harvard, has won a 2005 Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in England.

Mazyck, of Laurel, Md., plans to use the scholarship to earn a doctorate of philosophy specializing in educational studies. She earned her undergraduate degree in English with highest distinction from UNC and will graduate from Harvard’s master’s program in education policy and management in June.

Individuals up to age 24 may apply for the Rhodes Scholarship and must earn the endorsement of the university from which they graduated. Mazyck returned to UNC twice this fall – once for her UNC Rhodes Scholarship interview – and has worked with UNC officials to prepare for the process.

“My goal is to work toward closing the achievement gap between minority and white students in the United States,” Mazyck said. “The opportunity to study at Oxford will help me achieve this, but I also realize this comes with a great responsibility. I’m grateful to God, and to faculty, my family and friends who helped me through the process.”

Mazyck’s dedication to helping children achieve led her to participate in the Teach For America program following graduation from UNC. Teach For America is a national service corps of recent college graduates who teach in low-income communities. Mazyck spent two years in Indianola, Miss., teaching fourth-graders.

While at UNC, she also co-founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Leadership Day, a program she that brings more that 100 children to campus to participate in leadership-building activities.

“She inspires immediate respect and confidence in everyone who encounters her,” said UNC English Professor George Lensing, director of distinguished scholarships and coordinator of UNC’s Rhodes nominees. “An inevitable leader by her warm, confident demeanor and clear-eyed focus, she commands immediate trust. Rachel will be a powerful force in helping to reshape American public education in the years ahead.”

Mazyck entered college at age 16 as a Morehead Scholar and finished in three years. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and made the dean’s list all semesters at UNC.

Mazyck brings to 38 the number of Rhodes Scholars from UNC since the program began in 1902. In November 2003, senior Elizabeth Kistin was chosen for a Rhodes Scholarship, becoming the 14th UNC winner since 1980. Carolina ranks second among public universities in numbers of Rhodes Scholars produced.

Thirty-two Americans were chosen on Nov. 20 for the scholarships, created in the will of English statesman Cecil Rhodes. Originally, 904 students had been nominated by 341 colleges and universities nationwide.

The award pays all tuition, fees and living expenses for two years at Oxford, plus most travel expenses to and from the university. The scholarship will cover a third year at Oxford if needed for a student’s area of study. Its value varies by academic field but averages $35,000 per year.