Northwood grad is one of 32 U.S. students selected as Rhodes Scholars for 2012

A member of Northwood High School’s class of 2008 is one of only 32 college students in the U.S. to earn what is widely considered the world’s most prestigious scholarship.

Stephanie Lin, now a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been named a Rhodes Scholar for 2012, meaning she’ll be pursuing her postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in England for up to three years – with all of her expenses paid.

“I’m tremendously excited for this opportunity to learn and grow at Oxford, and really humbled by the amount of support I’ve received from friends and family from MIT and Irvine,” said Lin, who also attended IUSD’s Sierra Vista Middle School. “I count myself as incredibly fortunate, not just for the scholarship but for the amazing people who have helped me reach it.”

Elliot F. Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust, called the scholarship “the oldest and best known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.” Indeed, in all of California, only four were tapped to attend Oxford in the fall following a two-stage selection process.

Candidates first had to secure endorsements from their colleges or universities. Special selection committees, representing 16 districts across the U.S., then invited the strongest applicants to appear for interviews.

“We actually had the interviews in the morning this past Saturday (Nov. 19) and were then called back in the afternoon for the announcement,” Lin said. “All 10 of the finalists from District 16 sat together in a room while the committee deliberated next door. Every once in a while they would call people back for further interviewing, and they finally came into our room to make the announcement after about three hours.”

“Waiting together was terrifying, but also exhilarating and a lot of fun,” she said. “Every single one of the other applicants was so interesting. They’ve all done — and will continue to do — incredible things.”

Speaking of incredible things, Lin is currently majoring in biology with a minor in applied international studies, and she’s earned a bundle of academic honors. An active member of the MIT Global Poverty Initiative who directs projects in Mexico, she is also a founding resource coordinator for Health Leads Boston, which serves families in need of assistance. If that weren’t enough, she’s editor-in-chief of MIT’s literary journal.

Lin has done biochemical research at the Chao Cancer Research Center and the Whitehead Institute, studying lung cancer, the Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi’s sarcoma virus. At Oxford, she plans to pursue master’s degrees in medical anthropology and global health science.

Northwood High Principal Leslie Roach offered plenty of praise for her former student, noting that Lin shone brightly as an academic star in Irvine.

“She was a great student,” Roach said, “and one of the brightest, most humble individuals I have ever met.”

MIT’s News Office has more on Lin here.