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Two Students at Yale University Awarded Rhodes Scholarships


New Haven, Conn. — Benjamin M. Eidelson, a senior at Yale College, and Isra J. Bhatty, a first-year student at Yale Law School, will soon be bound for Oxford, England, as recipients of Rhodes Scholarships for 2008.

They are among 32 new Rhodes Scholars who were chosen from 764 applicants from 294 colleges and universities across the United States. They will enter the University of Oxford in England for two or three years of study.

Benjamin M. Eidelson
Rhodes Scholarships

Eidelson, a resident of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, is pursuing a double major in philosophy and political science — two disciplines, he notes, that “complement” each other. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year, Eidelson says he is interested in the “intersection of morality and political science with policy and the American Constitution” and intends some day to go to law school. He will pursue a B.Phil. in philosophy at Oxford.

During his freshman year, Eidelson received a Meeker Prize for English composition and the Riggs Prize for the humanities. A North American Parliamentary Debate Champion in 2006, he coaches debate teams in a New Haven public school (he also is an advisor to the Robotics Club there). He is active in 24 Hours for Darfur, an organization that seeks to end the genocide there. He received a Robert Wood Johnson award for research he conducted on public health policy and published a paper on his study in a professional journal. Last summer, with support from an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship awarded by Yale Law School, Eidelson interned in the office of Newark Mayor Cory Booker (Yale Law School ’97). Describing the mayor, also a former Rhodes Scholar, as a “role model,” Eidelson says that receiving a congratulatory call from Booker was a highlight of his post-Rhodes-announcement celebration.

Isra J. Bhatty
Rhodes Scholarships
Isra J. Bhatty

Born in Leeds, England and raised in a town outside of Chicago, Bhatty grew up speaking three languages (Urdu, Punjabi and English)at home. She graduated from The University of Chicago in 2006 with majors in economics and Near Eastern languages and literature. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a college junior and won many prizes for leadership and scholarship at The University of Chicago. During her undergraduate years, Bhatty founded a tutoring program in Chicago, was an English-Urdu translator of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, led a Chicago coalition on criminal justice reform, and worked closely with Chicago’s inner-city Muslim Action Network. She also founded, captained and played in an intramural champion women’s football team. “Football is a big passion of mine,” she says, though she doesn’t expect the sport to figure in her professional future. Bhatty has also performed as a hip-hop artist and poet, and still intends to write poetry as a hobby. Now in her first year at Yale Law School, she hopes to have a career in the public arena advocating for policies that promote social justice.

At Oxford, Bhatty plans to pursue a M.Phil. in evidence-based social intervention—which she describes as a “fusion” of several disciplines concerned with social issues—with a focus on programs for people of color, immigrants and substance abusers. She says she is also looking forward to working with England’s South Asian and Muslim populations.

The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest of the international study awards available to American students, were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and colonial pioneer. Applicants are chosen on the basis of high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.

The 32 Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of scholars chosen from 18 other jurisdictions around the world. Approximately 95 Rhodes Scholars are selected worldwide each year.


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