PHOENIX – A Phoenix-area man who's the son of Mexican immigrants was named Sunday as one of 32 American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars who will pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University.
Oscar De Los Santos, who was born and raised in Los Angeles but currently is living in the Phoenix suburb of Laveen, was among the recipients from 882 applicants who were endorsed by 311 colleges and universities.
In an email to The Associated Press, De Los Santos said he was excited for the opportunity to study at Oxford but disappointed to see that appeared to be the only Latino selected this year.
"I would like to express my disappointment that I was the only Latino Rhodes Scholar selected this year," he said. "I personally know hundreds of talented, deserving young Latinos around the country who would contribute to and benefit tremendously from the Rhodes. I'm disappointed that powerful institutions continue to underestimate and marginalize the talents of people of color."
At Oxford, De Los Santos plans to read for a master of public policy and a master of studies in theology with a focus on Christian ethics.
"I'm the child of Mexican immigrants, an anti-hunger advocate and a former teacher and political organizer. My degree choices are a way for me to respond from a sense of moral urgency to help marginalized people," he said.
De Los Santos said his parents "were undocumented immigrants when they came to this country, but they're citizens now."
He was one of the top graduates from the University of Southern California in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in political science.
De Los Santos graduated as a Truman Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, with USC's Order of the Laurel and Palm — its highest honor, which is reserved for 20 undergraduates each year.
The city council of Los Angeles honored him as an emerging leader.
De Los Santos served as an intern to the National Economic Council and the House of Representatives and worked as the youngest Florida field organizer for the 2012 Obama campaign.
He currently is a lobbyist and manager of public policy for the Association of Arizona Food Banks.
In the 2015-16 academic year, De Los Santos taught English and social studies to sixth-graders at the Champion South Mountain School in Phoenix.
At Oxford, he plans to read for a master of public policy and a master of studies in theology with a focus on Christian ethics. The scholarships cover all expenses for two or three years of study at the prestigious university in England starting next October.
In some instances, the scholarships may allow funding for four years.
The American students will join an international group of scholars chosen from 18 jurisdictions around the world. A total of 95 scholars will be selected worldwide this year.
The scholarships are worth about $68,000 per year.
The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.