Students from each end of Pennsylvania are among those selected as Rhodes scholars to pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University.
Chosen were a member of the U.S. National Rowing Team from Pittsburgh who is concentrating on the biological basis of behavior and a Harvard University senior from Philadelphia who is interested in the common intellectual heritage of medieval Islamic and Christian theologians.
Jennifer Hebert, a University of Pennsylvania senior, is a varsity oarswoman and national team member who competed in the Under-23 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria. She also works to help and instruct physically and cognitively disabled rowers.
Hebert has studied the mechanisms underlying memory as well as drug addiction research and is now examining the effects of nicotine exposure or stress on neural circuitry. At Oxford, she plans to pursue a Master of Science degree in psychiatry.
Rivka Hyland, a Harvard senior majoring in Islamic studies and proficient in eight modern and classical languages, is interested in how medieval philosophy with roots in ancient Greece can offer insights into modern attitudes. Captain of her intramural rowing team, she plans to pursue a master's degree in scholastic theology at Oxford.
Hyland, named a winner after a daylong selection event at Haverford College, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she and 11 other finalists were interviewed in the morning, then waited seven hours while the selection board deliberated.
"We went through all the phases of talking and napping and reading and talking again," she told the newspaper. "In some ways I feel like I'm still in that room and this is just a dream I'm having."
When she was selected, she said, "At first I didn't believe my ears."
"I kept taking all the eye contact all the committee members were giving me as confirmation that he actually said my name," Hyland said.
The scholarships for the winners, chosen from 869 applicants endorsed by 316 colleges and universities, cover all expenses for two or three years of study at the prestigious university in England starting next October.