This year's Rhodes Scholars include an aspiring anthropologist and a fluent Arabic speaker who works with orphans in Egypt, though another comes from an already famous pedigree: Ronan Farrow.
Farrow is the son of actress Mia Farrow and director Woody Allen and had a bachelor's degree by the time he was 15. He enrolled at Yale Law School at age 17, graduating in 2009, and the 23-year-old now works as special adviser to the Secretary of State for global youth issues.
Farrow said that for now he's focused now on his work with the State Department, which is aimed at empowering young people to get involved politically and economically. At Oxford, though, he plans to study international development.
"There can be more research and writing on issues I'm really excited to think deeply about," Farrow said.
Farrow was among 32 American students chosen as Rhodes Scholars. They will be awarded scholarships to study at Oxford University.
The awards announced early Sunday provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the prestigious university in England. The winners were selected from 830 applicants endorsed by 299 different colleges and universities. The scholars will enter Oxford next October.
The value of the scholarships averages about $50,000 per year.
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.
The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 14 other jurisdictions around the world. Approximately 80 scholars are selected each year.
The winner's interests are as broad as their studies.
Sarah Smierciak, a Northwestern University graduate student from Lemont, Ill., said she became interested in the Middle East by way of a history class. She went on to become fluent in Arabic within a few short years, found opportunities to work and study in Egypt and make contacts with locals. She said she will continue her work with orphaned children until she begins her studies at Oxford.
Many recipients told The Associated Press they were still trying to grasp their selection.
"I'm really pretty ecstatic and trying to take this all in," Cory Rodgers, 22, of Somerset, Pa., told The Associated Press by phone. "It was really a surprise. There were actually a ton of really good applicants for this district."
Rodgers said he plans to study medical anthropology and eventually hopes to take on a leadership role at the World Health Organization.