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Though no Penn students were awarded the Rhodes Scholarship this weekend, many were close.

Twenty-six Penn students applied this year, one more than last year. And of the 16 possible regions to apply from, Penn students covered 10. The University produced seven finalists.

The overall number of University applicants and recipients has grown since the creation of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships in 2001, according to CURF Director Harriet Joseph.

“We find the best students … we can, and we prepare them as strongly as we can,” Joseph said. “Unfortunately, they didn’t win this year.”

“I thought CURF did a great job providing support,” 2008 College and Wharton graduate and past Rhodes Scholar Joyce Meng said. “They planted the idea early on, reviewed essays, gave feedback and helped me practice interviewing.”

Peer institutions have had more Rhodes Scholars than Penn in the past because these universities “have had central offices that focus on the Rhodes Scholarship for a long time,” Joseph added. “Before CURF, all the fellowships were dispersed in different places around the University.”

Now that more colleges are creating fellowship offices, the diversity of applicants and recipients is growing.

“There are more kids from Delaware, Minnesota, Oberlin, that weren’t represented in the years that Harvard was winning 300,” Joseph said, referring to Harvard University’s 328 total Rhodes recipients.

Harvard won five Rhodes Scholarships last year and three this year. Columbia, Cornell and Brown universities did not win any Rhodes Scholarships this year.

“Rhodes is trying very hard to find kids from different kinds of universities,” Joseph said. “Not just Ivies.”

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