Only 32 American college students every year are named to receive a Rhodes scholarship, which covers all expenses for two to three years of study at Oxford University in England starting next fall..
The US 2018 Rhodes Scholars awardees were named recently and for the first time in the US, an out trans man was among the 32 people named to receive one. There were also ten African Americans named, the most in a Rhodes Scholar class ever.
Thanks to Marisa Richmond for alerting me to this latest amazing nugget of trans history and sterling example of #TransExcellence.
Calvin Runnels is a senior biochemistry major at Georgia Tech University from Baton Rouge, LA. He is not only is maintaining a 4.0 GPA, but has also become the second out trans person ever to be named a Rhodes Scholar.
"I was absolutely floored when they called my name," Runnels said in a Georgia Voice interview. "I had been steeling myself to congratulate two of my new friends from the other 13 finalists --— all of whom, I think, would have been exceptionally deserving of the scholarship. Most of all, I'm excited to get to know the other 31 Rhodes scholar-elects who received the good news yesterday, as well as all the other scholars from around the glob; I think we all have an incredible amount to learn from each other."
Pema McLaughlin was the first out US trans person to become a Rhodes scholar, and that happened according to the Rhodes Trust in 2016. Other famous American Rhodes scholars are former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former UN Ambassador Susan Rice, ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos, singer Kris Kristofferson and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
Runnels is not only a well rounded student at Georgia Tech, he's also keeping being named a Rhodes Scholar in perspective.
“What I think it means, and the way I’m trying to frame it in my mind, is that I don’t want to view getting this scholarship as my peak accomplishment of my life,” he said. “I want to think of it as an affirmation of the things I have done so far and also as a call to duty to make a difference in the world and try to do great things from here on.”
Runnels is planning to study for a doctorate in biochemistry, and it will be interesting to see what transpires in his life post Oxford..