Two Penn students have been selected as Rhodes Scholars to pursue graduate degrees at the University of Oxford.
The Rhodes Scholarship, an award for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford, is the oldest international scholarship program in the world. Former awardees include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), political commentator Rachel Maddow, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
This year, a total of 58 Rhodes Scholars were selected, 32 of whom are American.
College senior Christopher D’Urso, who is pursuing a master's degree at the Fels Institute of Government, was awarded an American Rhodes scholarship, while College and Wharton senior Adnan Zikri Jaafar was awarded a Malaysian Rhodes scholarship.
Penn President Amy Gutmann expressed her pride for the two seniors, and told Penn News that they embody "the finest attributes of Penn scholars who are working to make a profound difference in the world."
D'Urso is pursuing a major in international relations and a minor in Hispanic studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a master of public administration at the Fels Institute of Government. At Oxford, D’Urso plans to pursue a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice, as well as one in global governance and diplomacy.
Jaafar is enrolled in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. In the Wharton School he is pursuing concentrations in finance and statistics, while in the College he is pursuing a major in international studies and minors in economics, mathematics, and philosophy. At Oxford, Jaafar will pursue a master’s degree in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation and one in financial economics.
D'Urso founded Penn Consumer Assistance Support and Education in 2015, which has provided consumer advocacy to more than 1,500 individuals. He also was a member of the Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community, the editor-in-chief of the Sigma Iota Rho Journal of International Relations, and the co-chair of the University Honor Council.
Jaafar is an ambassador for Penn’s Giving What We Can and volunteers for the Muslim Youth Center of Philadelphia's "PA Refugee Task Force." At Penn, he has also served as a Fox Research and Service Fellow and a Wharton Research Scholar. His research this past summer assessed alternative approaches to improving the impact of zakat distribution, the practice of alms-giving in the Islamic faith, in his home country of Malaysia.
Jaafar and D'Urso bring the total number of Penn Rhodes Scholars to 26. Three years ago, 2015 College graduate Rutendo Chigora became the first Penn student in five years to win the Rhodes Scholarship, earning one of two awards from her native Zimbabwe. A year later, Jennifer Hebert became the first American to win the award from Penn since 2009 College graduate Sarah-Jane Littleford.