December 21, 2011

Two UW students selected Rhodes Scholars

By Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Two UW students selected Rhodes Scholars

Photo by Mary Levin.

Cameron Turtle, left, and Byron Gray are the University of Washington’s most recent Rhodes Scholars. The UW is the only public institution in the country to have multiple students selected for the prestigious national scholarship for 2012.

Byron Gray and Cameron Turtle, University of Washington seniors, are among 32 Rhodes Scholars named for 2012.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest international fellowship awards in the world, according to the website for Rhodes Trust, a British charity established in honor of Cecil Rhodes that provides full financial support for scholars to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Gray and Turtle were selected from a pool of 830 candidates nominated by their colleges and universities.

The UW is the only public university in the nation with more than one new scholar.

Gray and Turtle responded to a few questions we posed. Below the Q&A is a digest of media coverage of the scholarship announcements.

Q&A with Byron Gray and Cameron Turtle

What was your reaction when you learned you were selected to be a Rhodes Scholar?

CAMERON TURTLE: In the few milliseconds between the announcement of Byron’s name and mine I thought, “Well, good for UW to get one.” When my name was announced, I was shocked. Following the announcement we had a few awkward minutes of congratulatory hugs and handshakes from the other finalists and committee members before we were ushered out to receive the scholarship materials. I then had a chance to call my girlfriend and mother, who both responded with, “No way!” After convincing them that I did indeed receive the award, both started crying. As I begin to work out the logistics of my years at Oxford, the selection is finally sinking in.

What was the most surprising aspect of the selection process?

CT:The announcement came at the end of a long day at the K&L Gates law offices where the 16 finalists had interviewed the previous ~36 hours. While the committee deliberated the finalists played Cranium and nervously made conversation. I was very surprised by the generally amiable and outgoing nature of the finalists and I greatly enjoyed our time together. I don’t believe I will ever have the opportunity to see such high caliber individuals humming Michael Jackson songs, acting out “Taming of the Shrew,” or drawing “Star Wars” with their eyes closed.

What UW experiences would you identify as helping prepare you for this?

CT: Byron and I were exceptionally well-prepared for the interview process by Mona Pitre-Collins in the Office of Merit Scholarships and Awards. Our mock interviews with Mona and the other finalists provided the opportunity to field unique questions from individuals with expertise in a variety of fields.

Can you offer any advice to other undergraduates considering applying for the Rhodes or other prestigious national scholarships?

CT: Success in major national scholarships is difficult to predict given the high number of incredibly well-qualified candidates. If I were to offer any advice it would be to take advantage of the wide variety of opportunities available at the UW, including research, study abroad, and extracurricular activities. The experience you will gain from these opportunities will be invaluable in your applications and should improve the quality of education you receive while at the UW.

What are you most looking forward to at Oxford?

CT: I am very excited at the opportunity to explore Oxford, London, and nearby European countries. As we will be heading to Oxford immediately following the London Olympic Games, there should be a very interesting comparison between brand new arenas and historical landmarks. Though English food does not have a particularly positive reputation, I am looking forward to visiting the storied pubs near the university.

About Byron Gray and Cameron Turtle

Byron Gray

A native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and homeschooled throughout his pre-college years, Byron Gray entered the University of Washington where he majored in political science; law societies and justice; and Asian studies (South Asia). He has three years of foreign language training in Hindi and Urdu. Based on primary research completed in India, Byron developed an honors thesis on the role of family law in national and religious politics in Indian society. Byron was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship, College of Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Research Award, Mary Gates Research Scholarship, and Beinecke Scholarship. Byron will enter the University of Oxford in 2012 to continue his studies and research on the cultural, legal, and political challenges in contemporary India.

Cameron Turtle

Growing up in Pullman, Washington, Cameron Turtle entered the University of Washington with a strong research background. As a bioengineering major with a minor in mathematics, he studied the mechanisms of cardiac function and dysfunction in order to design innovative therapeutics to restore heart function after damage or disease. His selection as an Amgen Scholar allowed him to continue that work. Cameron co-founded the UW chapter of Bioengineers Without Borders, a student-run organization that designed and developed low-cost bioengineering solutions to health problems in developing nations. Also an honors student, Cameron was awarded two Mary Gates Research Awards and the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. He will pursue a Ph.D. in cardiovascular research at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Rhodes Scholars in the News

Two UW students named Rhodes scholars
Seattle Times | 11/21/11
Two University of Washington students have been named Rhodes scholars for 2012. Byron Gray and Cameron Turtle were selected from among 830 candidates nominated by their colleges and universities.

UW seniors Byron Gray and Cameron Turtle named Rhodes Scholars
UW Today | 11/21/11
Byron Gray and Cameron Turtle, University of Washington seniors, are among 32 Rhodes Scholars just named for 2012. The UW is the only public university in the nation with more than one new scholar.

2 UW students among 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholars
Tacoma News Tribune / Associated Press | 11/21/11
Two University of Washington students are among 32 Rhodes Scholars named Sunday. They are Byron D. Gray of Post Falls, Idaho, and Cameron W. Turtle of Pullman.

Meet UW’s Rhodes Scholars
TechFlash | 11/21/11
Two University of Washington students have been named Rhodes Scholars.

32 Americans Are Chosen as Rhodes Scholars for 2012
Chronicle of Higher Education | 11/20/11
The 32 American winners of Rhodes scholarships for 2012 were announced on Saturday. The University of Washington had two winners.

Rhodes Scholars Named
Inside Higher Ed | 11/21/11
Thirty-two American students were named Saturday as Rhodes Scholars. This year’s winners include two from the University of Washington.

Rhodes Scholars Named for 2012
ABC News / Associated Press | 11/20/11
The 32 American students chosen as Rhodes Scholars for 2012 include the UW’s Byron Gray and Cameron Turtle.

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