Luther senior Georgianna Whiteley named Rhodes Scholar

Whiteley one of 32 American students chosen for the international honor

Luther College senior Georgianna "Annie" Whiteley of Wayzata, Minn., was named a Rhodes Scholar Saturday, Nov. 17. Whiteley was selected from a pool of 838 candidates nominated by their colleges and universities. She was the only student from an Iowa school selected for the honor.

Hear Whiteley talk about her reaction and what the honor means to her:

Luther President Richard Torgerson is excited for Whiteley, "I am immensely proud of Annie and of the Luther faculty who have mentored and supported her journey of transformation at Luther. This is a great honor for Luther College and it affirms the type of education we offer--one that moves students beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger world."

Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England, and may allow funding in some instances for four years.

One of 32 outstanding scholars selected, Whiteley will begin studies at Oxford in October 2013.

"Annie is such a delightful, unassuming young woman. We're just thrilled for the doors and opportunities this will open for her," said Terry Sparkes, Luther associate dean and director of curriculum development and college honors.

Whiteley has maintained a 3.988 GPA while majoring in chemistry and pursuing a minor in biology at Luther.

Her research experience includes time at The Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Iowa and Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minn., but her journey toward becoming a Rhodes Scholar started in her sophomore year when she spent her January term in Tanzania, studying the Maasai, one of the indigenous cultures in the east African country.

Whiteley traveled to northern Tanzania and conducted interviews of Maasai elders to document indigenous plant knowledge to be used in the curriculum of Noonkodin Secondary School in Monduli, Tanzania. She also worked to develop laboratory methods to help the school extract the essential oils from plants to put into soap and sell as part of a cottage industry for the school. Her work was supported by a Luther Student/Faculty Collaborative Grant and McElroy Student Faculty Collaborative Grant.

Whiteley told the Associated Press "I came back from Tanzania with the idea that I no longer just wanted to be a physician, but a physician that is not only culturally sensitive but deals with more global health issues and global health inequities."

After two years at Oxford, she plans to go to medical school.

While pursuing her goal of becoming a doctor, at Luther Whiteley is involved in the PALS youth mentoring program, the Health Science Club and Luther Athletes Serving Others. She is also a varsity athlete, competing on two conference championship tennis teams.

This is the eighth time a Luther student has been selected for a Rhodes Scholarship, Whiteley joins 1911 Rhodes Scholar J.A.O. Larsen, 1908 Luther graduate; 1914 scholar David T. Nelson, 1912 Luther alumnus; 1924 scholar Carl Strom, 1919 Luther graduate; 1951 scholar George Mohr, 1951 Luther graduate; 1959 graduate Anthony Preus, 1958 Luther alumnus; 1985 scholar Mary Larson, 1985 Luther alumna; 2001 scholar Phillip Assmus, 2001 Luther graduate.

The scholarships were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university. This year approximately 1,700 students sought their institution's endorsement; 838 were endorsed by 302 different colleges and universities.

Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview. Applicants are chosen from the following criteria: high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor. These basic characteristics are directed at fulfilling Cecil Rhodes's hopes that the Rhodes Scholars would make an effective and positive contribution throughout the world.

Two-hundred twelve applicants from 88 different colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition, including 12 that had never before had a student win a Rhodes Scholarship.

The 32 Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of Scholars chosen from 14 other jurisdictions around the world.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field and the degree chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. Elliot Gerson, American Secretary for The Rhodes Trust, estimates that the total value of the Scholarship averages approximately $50,000 per year, and up to as much as $200,000 for Scholars who remain at Oxford for four years in certain departments.

Whiteley, one of 32 Americans selected for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, is majoring in chemistry at Luther.