Rhodes Scholars Attend Indiana Colleges

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Two students at Indiana colleges have earned one of the nation's most prestigious scholarships. Jacob Burnett and Alex Coccia are among the 2015 Rhodes Scholars. Burnett attends Wabash College and Coccia is at the University of Notre Dame.

You can view a complete list of winners throughout the U.S. by clicking here.

November 23, 2014

News Release

VIENNA, Vir. - On Saturday, November 22, 2014, the American Rhodes Scholar Class of 2015 was elected. These 32 outstanding students will commence their studies at Oxford in October 2015. They were selected from a pool of 877 candidates who had been nominated by their colleges and universities. They will now complete their applications to begin courses at Oxford next year, widely across the University's academic disciplines.

Source: The Rhodes Trust

November 24, 2014

News Release

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. - Since Wabash College's founding in 1832, the College has been proud to graduate eight Rhodes Scholars. Jacob Burnett '15 will become the ninth in May.

Burnett, Mishawaka, IN., learned yesterday he was one of 32 students in the nation to be named a Rhodes. He will work toward his master's degree at Oxford in the fall of 2015. The 32 winners are selected from a pool of 877 candidates.

"It feels amazing," the Wabash senior said after just learning of the honor. "It's the first time in my life I've ever been speechless."

Burnett participated in finalist interview, held across the nation, with 12 others in the Indianapolis law office of Faegre Baker Daniels. Alex Coccia, Notre Dame, was the other winner from the region.

"When you think about winning, the odds are so crazy," Burnett said. "Without the support of some people you don’t even want to apply. You go to the reception, you're in a room with some of most accomplished people in the country, and you wonder, 'Why would they ever choose me?'"

"Jacob is a wonderful Wabash story," said Wabash President Gregory Hess. "He is a passionate, articulate, and thoughtful young man, who lives out our mission to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely. The recognition he receives through this award speaks to all that we do to provide a liberal arts arts education for our young men."

Burnett had plenty of support from Wabash College. He'll pursue a master's in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The Rhodes Trust provides funds to cover the Scholars' education costs.

"He's a classic Rhodes story, drawing on his own background to forge a deep social commitment to justice," said Professor of History Dr. Stephen Morillo, also a Rhodes Scholar. "Jacob's academic excellence and his passion made for an unstoppable combination.

"He's also a classic Wabash story: this place has fostered his talents as few places could have, and everyone who’s had a hand in his education here — professors and students alike (we learn from our peers!) — should be proud."

Burnett, speaking by phone from the Indy law office, believed it was his passion and personal background that set him apart. He shared his summer activities, but believed his background was what gave him the nod. "They look at people not just for what they've done but what they can do with the scholarship. It was a lot about growing up in tough circumstances, a single mother, and moving around a lot. We also talked a lot about my passion."

Graduate Fellowship Advisor Susan Albrecht was thrilled. "Not simply because he is a Wabash man but because I believe in my heart that Jacob is the kind of individual who deserves this kind of acknowledgment and opportunity," Albrecht said. "Not only has he worked incredibly hard, he has worked hard for others and will continue to do so. He is motivated by an exceptionally deep-seated empathy and a desire to use his intellect, insight, passion and drive to work with those who are disenfranchised, underrepresented, powerless, and discriminated against, in order to better their lives."

Burnett has been active at Wabash through Moot Court, pre-law, and The Bachelor. He has a widely defined goal to pursue the law to help others.

"I want to fundamentally change the concept of justice in our society," he said. "I want to make change through attorneys working on cases, working on legislative policy and helping other countries build their justice system. I want to impact people and the framework they're working in."

Burnett is the first Wabash Rhodes Scholar since Jeremy Robinson '04 won in 2005.

Source: Wabash College

November 23, 2014

News Release

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Alex Coccia, a 2014 University of Notre Dame graduate, has been selected to the American Rhodes Scholar Class of 2015.

A Columbus, Ohio native, Coccia was selected from a pool of 877 candidates who had been nominated by their colleges and universities. He is Notre Dame's 15th Rhodes Scholar and first since 2002. This year's 32 Rhodes Scholars will commence their studies at Oxford in October 2015.

"A scholar, student leader and athlete, Alex used his gifts and energy to exert a powerful and positive influence on many," said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame's president. "On behalf of the entire Notre Dame family, I offer our congratulations on an honor that is well deserved."

Coccia majored in Africana Studies and Peace Studies at Notre Dame. Currently a Truman-Albright Fellow in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., he served as student body president, running on a platform focused on promoting the passions and interests of all students, including those who feel marginalized. A member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, he worked to serve peers and improve the campus climate on a variety of issues, most notably to increase awareness for students who identify as LGBTQ minority students, students who are undocumented citizens and students impacted by sexual violence.

"Alex did what we hope all students will do as undergraduates at Notre Dame. He took his learning experience beyond the classroom and took full advantage of all the resources on campus to discern his path, cultivate his gifts, and serve as a transformational leader," said Dr. Deb Rotman, Paul and Maureen Stefanick Faculty Director in the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement.

Involved in numerous Notre Dame clubs and activities, Coccia also served as president of the Progressive Student Alliance, steering committee member for the Call to Action Committee and founder of the 4 to 5 Movement.

"It's an incredible honor, and I'm humbled, to be named a Rhodes Scholar representing the University of Notre Dame," said Coccia. "I am deeply grateful for the support and invaluable mentorship I've received over my time at Notre Dame - from faculty, staff and my fellow students. The mission of the Rhodes Trust is reflected in our own, to engage critically so that learning becomes service to justice. The academic experience in Africana Studies and Peace Studies taught me to apply those shared values to 'fighting the world's fight.' I look forward to continuing this journey at Oxford."

He was also a member of the Fighting Irish varsity fencing team, which won the 2011 National Championship.

Coccia plans to study comparative social policy at Oxford.

Coccia advanced through a rigorous multi-step selection process for Rhodes Scholarship applicants, including seeking endorsement from their college or university. This year approximately 1,600 students sought their institution’s endorsement; 877 were endorsed by 305 colleges and universities. Committees in each of 16 U.S. districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview. Applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil Rhodes.

According to the Rhodes Trust, along with academic excellence, "a Rhode