UA graduate Leah Crowder is one of 32 students selected to represent the United States as a Rhodes scholar. More than 2,500 students applied for the prestigious program.
Crowder is from Petersburg, Virginia. In May, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern and North African studies from the University of Arizona with a 4.0 GPA, then began pursuing her master’s degree in the same program. She is the only student from an Arizona university to be chosen this year for the honor.
“It’s an honor to be chosen but a huge responsibility, because the research I do at Oxford and after I leave really needs to make a difference,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who wanted to go and tackle the world’s problems.”
The scholarship covers two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England, where she will begin in the fall 2019. On average, this means about $70,000 in expenses.
“Rhodes scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead,” said Elliot F. Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust, in a statement.
Crowder participated in a foreign exchange program to Turkey in high school. That’s when her interest in the ongoing conflict between the Turkish government and Kurdish groups in the country began.
She said she works to find ways to end cyclical violence in areas torn by cultural and political tension. Her research enabled her to find a causal relationship between militarized curfew and civilian casualties, she said.
At her most recent internship at Art Anywhere Association in Turkey, she helped plan child protection activities in rural villages affected by violence.
Crowder chose to study at the UA because it was the only school she found to offer language programs in Turkish and Kurdish.
“I thought it was fate, so I moved across the country. I thought Tucson was pronounced Took-son.” She fell in love with the city and her academic community, she said.
At Oxford, Crowder will work toward her Ph.D. in international relations.
The scholarship was established as a British charity in 1902 .