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Lipika Goyal is the first Penn winner of the Rhodes Scholarship in 10 years. (Jacques-Jean Tiziou/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

After failing to land any Rhodes Scholars for the past decade, the University is basking in the glow of College senior Lipika Goyal, who was named a winner of the prestigious award this weekend. Goyal, one of four honorees from the Northeast region and 32 honorees from across the country, will use the award to earn a master's degree in developmental studies at Oxford University in England. "It's certainly something you don't expect," the Biological Basis of Behavior major. "Just to be a finalist is an honor." Goyal's win comes less than a week after fellow College senior Ari Alexander received the Marshall Scholarship. Penn students have not landed both scholarships in the same year since 1983. To Art Casciato, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, the two awards demonstrate Penn's "exceptional" student body. "Lipika is truly an exceptional student and person," Casciato said. "But Lipika and Ari are the exceptions that prove the rule that Penn students are exceptional." Goyal strives to use her undergraduate science degree from Penn and Oxford master's in developmental studies to work in the field of international public health. The Oxford master's examines the economics, history, social anthropology and politics of developing countries. Eventually, after spending two years in Oxford at the expense of the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, Goyal said she wants to go on to medical school and become a doctor. With a background in the humanities and a study of developing countries, Goyal said she hopes to be "the most culturally sensitive researcher that I can." Part of Goyal's desire to work in international public health stems from two summers researching in Ghana and India. In Ghana, Goyal spent six weeks working with two Penn professors to investigate malaria and sickle cell disease. She also spent one week with a host family in a Ghanian village. "The people are so warm and the country so welcoming," Goyal said. "It's so rich." And in India, Goyal studied zinc deficiency in New Delhi slums, investigating the feasibility of a national program devoted to zinc supplement distribution. "It strengthened my commitment to international public health," Goyal said of her experience abroad. "It was a very humbling experience." Goyal received the Rhodes Scholarship after spending the past several days interviewing with the Rhodes panel in Boston. On Saturday, Goyal and nine other finalists had formal 20-minute discussions with the panel of judges. The finalists also met with the Rhodes judges on Friday night during a cocktail party. And Goyal said that given her experience with the Rhodes program, everyone should apply for these scholarships. "It was one of those things where I was just going to throw my name in a hat," she explained. "Anyone can win a Rhodes Scholarship," she added. "There's so many qualified people out there. There's nothing special about me." The scholarship, created from the will of British philanthropist and colonialist Cecil B. Rhodes, is the oldest international study award offered to American students. This year, 950 students from 357 colleges and universities applied. The 32 winners follow in the footsteps of President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice David Souter and a handful of current United States senators and representatives.

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