Three MIT Students Win Rhodes, Setting An Institute Record

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: An article Tuesday about MIT’s Rhodes Scholarship winners incorrectly claimed that MIT broke its record for the most Rhodes Scholars in a given year. MIT did not break that record this year, but this year’s three winners did break the record for the most MIT Rhodes Scholars from the U.S. in a year.

Three MIT students were named Rhodes Scholars last Sunday, setting a record for the number of MIT students awarded the prestigious Oxford fellowship in any one year.

Ugwechi W. Amadi ’10, Caroline J. Huang ’10, and Steven Mo ’10 were among the 32 American and 80 international recipients of this year’s scholarship, which will allow them to pursue any course of full-time postgraduate study at the University of Oxford for up to three years.

“Everything has been surreal,” Huang said in an e-mail. “The quality of the other applicants in my district was extremely high; I feel extremely fortunate to have won.”

After being nominated by their home university, two winners were chosen from each U.S. district by the Rhodes Trust based on an extensive series of essays, letters of recommendation, and rounds of interviews. Judges rate applicants on their scholarship, athletics, community service, and character.

“The support from MIT has been unbelievable,” said Huang. “It’s a grueling process — transcript, two-page curriculum vitae, 1,000 word essay that essentially says who you are and what you want to do with your life, eight letters of recommendation, and an institutional endorsement — but it was bearable because of the support from MIT.”

The award covers all university fees and includes a stipend for living and travel, which is estimated to amount to roughly $50,000 per year.

MIT’s three recipients each hailed from different U.S. regions.

Ugwechi Amadi

Amadi (Camden, North Carolina — District 5) is a senior majoring in Brain and Cognitive Sciences with a minor in literature. At MIT, she has been active in post-traumatic stress disorder and atherosclerotic restenosis research as well as brain and atrophy research at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Amadi has served as president of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Society. She founded the brain and cognitive freshman pre-orientation program, is an MIT Burchard humanities scholar, and has mentored middle school girls for three years through the STEM Summer Institute program. She plans to continue her studies with a M. Sc. in psychological research at Oxford.

Caroline Huang

Huang (Newark, Delaware — District 4) will also graduate this spring with a major in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, with minors in psychology and political science. She founded MIT’s branch of Camp Kesem — a free, student-run summer camp for children of cancer patients — and has completed research on MRI imaging, with applications to dyslexia, as well as on casual learning in children.

Adding to her list of activities, Huang is also an EMT, contributing editor for The Tech, co-chair of the Student Health Advisory Committee, and has interned for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy as well as the Cambridge Women’s Commission. At Oxford, she plans to earn a doctorate in public health “with a focus on bioethics.”

“Eventually, I would like to be a health policy professor and government advisor, conducting research on other ethical questions in health care and creating support mechanisms to help families dealing with difficult situations,” Huang wrote in an e-mail to The Tech.

Steven Mo

Mo (Pearland, Texas — District 8) is a senior majoring in Biology with a minor in economics. Mo spent his junior year abroad, studying biochemistry and molecular biology through the Cambridge MIT Exchange.

At MIT, he has been active in research, studying breast cancer pathology at Cambridge and tumor suppressing nanoparticles at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. For his research, he has been named an MIT Burchard Scholar, an MIT Amgen Scholar, and has received the MIT Johnson & Johnson Excellence in Biomedical Engineering Research Prize.

Mo has also taught for MIT’s Educational Studies Program’s Splash and Splash on Wheels for multiple years, and is president of the MIT Student Ambassador Program and MIT’s Chapter of National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

At Oxford, he hopes to earn a doctorate in biomedical engineering.

As a long-term goal, Mo says that he hopes to return to the U.S. and possibly serve as a leader in a biotechnology company, non-profit organization, or government agency such as the NIH, although he said he’s keeping the option of becoming a professor open.

“Right now, I’m still open to [the idea of] being a professor. It was always one of my dreams, but as I realized, there are more ways that you can impact things in society.”

“I just hope to come back to the States and inspire next generation of young scientist,” he says.

Amadi, Huang, and Mo will join a long list of over 40 MIT alumni who received the award when they begin their fellowships next fall.