Rachel M. Myrick of Charlotte, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has won a Rhodes Scholarship, the world’s oldest and best known awards 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.
The daughter of Thomas Graham Myrick and Patricia Oliver Myrick of Charlotte, Myrick graduated from Myers Park High School in Charlotte in 2009.
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 studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, with majors in political science and global studies and a minor in creative writing.
“Rachel makes great things happen, from bringing the prestigious TEDx talks to Carolina to working effectively for student government,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “The Rhodes is a well-deserved honor for this exceptionally bright student, and it will provide even more opportunities for Rachel to make a difference in the world.”
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.
Myick is also the student body vice president and chair of the student advisory committee to the Chancellor. Myrick 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 TED, a nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading,” originally in the areas of technology, entertainment and design. Myrick 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 will 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.