Rachel M. Myrick of Charlotte, a Carolina senior, has won a Rhodes Scholarship, the world’s oldest and best known award for graduate study.
Myrick, 21, was one of 32 Americans selected Saturday for the prestigious award, which funds study at the University of Oxford in England.
Since the U.S. Rhodes Scholar program began in 1904, 48 Carolina students have been selected. Also, since 2002, Carolina has produced more American Rhodes Scholars than any other public research university in the U.S. and the 10th most of any public or private school.
Myrick came to Carolina on a Morehead-Cain Scholarship, a full, four-year scholarship to UNC that also funds four summer enrichment experiences and additional educational opportunities. Myrick is majoring political science and global studies with a minor in creative writing.
An honors student, Myrick has been on the dean’s list every semester. As a junior, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was one of seven students selected to teach in Carolina Students Taking Academic Responsibility through Teaching, in which she designed and taught a seminar working with a seasoned faculty mentor.
Myrick is also the student body vice president and chair of the student advisory committee to the chancellor. She spent the last three summers working for a domestic violence shelter in Belize, an international development firm in Cambodia and a strategic consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
Myrick introduced the idea for hosting a TED conference, one of a series of talks organized through the nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading,” originally in the areas of technology, entertainment and design. She then put together a team of 15 other students to plan a full weekend of events, raise $25,000 to fund the event and recruit the speakers for the January 2012 event. She is organizing a second TEDxUNC conference for February 2013.
Myrick expects to graduate from UNC in 2013 as both a Carolina Research Scholar, for her original research contributions; and a Carolina Public Service Scholar, for her exemplary public service within the community. As a Rhodes Scholar, she will pursue a master’s degree in international relations, studying the causes and consequences of ethnic conflict in world politics.
“It is rare for a student to balance dedication to social action with both an understanding of policy implementation and a passionate commitment to improve the lives of others, but Rachel has mastered that balance with incredible grace,” said Linda Dykstra, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships.
The Rhodes provides all expenses for two to three years of study; its value averages $50,000 per year, depending on a scholar’s academic field. In the United States, 302 colleges and universities endorsed 838 candidates for the Rhodes this year. Of those, 212 from 88 institutions were invited for final interviews Friday and Saturday in 16 Rhodes districts across the country.
The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 14 other jurisdictions around the world. Overall, about 80 scholars are selected each year. Scholars enter Oxford the following fall.