For the first time in its history, a William Smith student has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Julia James, a senior majoring in chemistry, has been selected as one of 32 students in the nation to continue her studies at Oxford University in England.
The exciting news was reported in two New York Times articles on Sunday, Nov. 23—2004 Rhodes Scholars Listed, and 2004 Rhodes Scholars List. An Associated Press story, Two West Point cadets among 32 Rhodes Scholars winners” ran in New York Newsday and the Ithaca Journal. On Nov. 24 the New York Post ran the story “Two Local Rhodes Scholars,” the Finger Lakes Times ran the story “William Smith student named Rhodes Scholar,” the Daily Messenger ran “The right chemistry for Oxford,” and the Democrat and Chronicle ran “Geneva’s colleges have Rhodes scholar.”
James, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has previously earned the nationally recognized Barry M. Goldwater award for excellence in science as well as the 2001, 2002 and 2003 American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholars award. In addition, she was one of only fifteen undergraduates to receive a 2003 United Negro College Fund – Merck scholarship. She has also presented papers and poster sessions at national and international chemistry association conventions in Chicago, Denver and Boston, and has been one of the youngest presenters at these conferences of professional chemists and researchers. James is also a recipient of the New York City Scholarship.
“This scholarship is first and foremost a wonderful reflection on Julia’s academic excellence and her integrity and character,” Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, said. “It is also a testament to the high degree of academic engagement at HWS and the faculty and staff who mentor students at the Colleges to provide opportunities to excel in undergraduate research, presentations before national societies and who take the time to bring forward the talents of students like Julia.”
Professor of Chemistry Carol Parish, James’ mentor and faculty adviser, states the Rhodes Scholar’s chosen field of theoretical chemistry is one of the most challenging. “Julia’s natural talent for scientific research, combined with her work ethic, quantitative skills and problem solving abilities, will allow her to make significant contributions to the advancement of science,” said Parish. “Julia is an outstanding student who rarely receives a grade lower than an A. Her exam and quiz scores were all consistently more than two standard deviations above the mean, her laboratory work was excellent and her personality and curiosity made her a joy to have in class. She scored in the 93rd percentile on the national ACS standardized Physical Chemistry I and II exams. Julia is often the last person to leave the laboratory at night and she can be found there most weekends working on her research or coursework.”
According to an article in Sunday’s New York Times announcing the Rhodes Scholarship winners, the students will enter the University of Oxford in England next October, 100 years after the first class of America Rhodes Scholars did so in 1904. The scholars were selected from 963 applicants endorsed by 366 colleges and universities. The scholarships provide two or three years of study at Oxford.
Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges hail two prior Rhodes Scholars, Emerson Spies, Hobart Class of 1936, who went on to become dean of the University of Virginia Law School, and Ralph C. Willard, Hobart Class of 1904. James is the first William Smith woman to earn the scholarship.