Four Duke students--three seniors and one graduate student--have been chosen this year as Rhodes Scholars. With more students picked this year than any other school in the country except Harvard, Duke's total number of Rhodes recipients has reached thirty-four.
Undergraduates Alexis Blane, Pavan Cheruvu, and Samuel Malone were selected from 925 applicants at 319 colleges and universities throughout the country. Graduate student Christian Campbell, a native of the Bahamas, was selected through a similar process for Caribbean residents.
Campbell, twenty-two, is a published poet in his third year of work on his doctorate at Duke. He says he will use his time at Oxford to get a M.Phil. degree: "I see this as a bridge to completing my dissertation work here in British modern literature and Caribbean literature. I thought Oxford was the ideal place to do that."
As a Caribbean poet and literary scholar, Campbell is working in a tradition that has exploded in the past two decades with some of the world's most prominent and celebrated authors writing in a number of different languages. Poets such as Nobel laureate Derek Walcott have explored the oral traditions of poetry while, at the same time, creating a work that intends to tell Caribbean history and construct an identity for the region.
"Walcott is a major influence in my life, one of the main reasons why I decided to pursue graduate study in order to be a poet," says Campbell. "It's his interest in exploring a relationship to poetry's traditions and finding a creative inheritance for the Caribbean. That's a great tradition to work from, but I'm also interested in moving beyond that in a more experimental mode.
"That's one of the reasons why I'm excited about going to Oxford. At first I thought that Oxford would be too conservative for what I want to do. And it is conservative. But I realized its traditions could help me. The kinds of people it attracts are exciting, and I will have opportunities to travel and learn from other places that are important to me."
Blane, Cheruvu, and Malone, all A.B. Duke Scholars, were named recipients of the Faculty Scholar Award, given by the Duke Academic Council in honor of general academic excellence. All were involved with student publications.
Blane, of Charlotte, North Carolina, majors in English and biology. She helped start The Duke Mind, an undergraduate journal in the cognitive sciences, and is interested in fields as diverse as neurosciences and poetry. She is writing her senior thesis on novelist E.L. Doctorow and poet Adrienne Rich. She is involved in karate, has been president of the Volleyball Club, and is a member of the Undergraduate Judicial Board. One summer, she did Alzheimer's research on a Howard Hughes research fellowship; another summer she did relief work in Kosovo. Blane plans to pursue a M.Phil. in English studies at Oxford.
Cheruvu, of Tampa, Florida, is a triple major in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, and chemistry, with a 4.0 grade point average. He has been involved in research on artificial hearts and has helped develop a software model for a cardiac device. He spent a summer in southern India, where he worked in a community hospital as the organizer of a prevention campaign concerning sexually transmitted diseases. He is senior editor of the campus magazine Eruditio, a publication for undergraduate writing; president of the North Carolina chapter of an engineering honor society; and a former officer in Spectrum, the undergraduate organization that promotes diversity and cultural understanding on campus. He is also the organizer of the Duke cricket team, and has served as a patient advocate in the neurosurgery ward of Duke Hospital. Cheruvu plans to do graduate work in biomedical engineering at Oxford.
Malone, from Zebulon, North Carolina, majors in mathematics and economics. At Duke, he edited Vertices, an undergraduate journal of science and technology, and recently won first place in an international Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM), his third award in MCM competition. He's been involved in the publication of six scholarly papers; has won the Goldwater Scholarship, a national science award; and is active in karate and distance running. Malone plans to pursue an M.Phil. in economics through the Oxford Financial Research Centre.
Rhodes Scholarship winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential, and physical vigor, among other attributes.