Tag: Harvard College

10 African Americans Win 2018 Rhodes Scholarships, Most Ever in Rhodes History

Cadet Simone Askew, of Fairfax, Va., is one of 32 Americans awarded Rhodes scholarships to study at Oxford University in England. (Richard Drew, File/Associated Press)

The latest group of U.S. Rhodes scholars includes 10 African Americans — the most ever in a single Rhodes class — as well as a transgender man and four students from colleges that had never had received the honor before.

The Rhodes Trust on Sunday announced the 32 men and women chosen for post-graduate studies at Oxford University in England. Among them: the first black woman to lead the Corps of Cadets at West Point; a wrestler at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who’s helping develop a prosthetic knee for use in the developing world; and a Portland, Oregon, man who has studied gaps in his hometown’s “sanctuary city” policy protecting immigrants in the country illegally from deportation.

“This year’s selections — independently elected by 16 committees around the country meeting simultaneously — reflects the rich diversity of America,” Elliot F. Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust, said in a news release announcing the winners Sunday. “They plan to study a wide range of fields across the social sciences, biological and medical sciences, physical sciences and mathematics, and the humanities.”The scholarships, considered by many to be the most prestigious available to American students, cover all expenses for two or three years of study starting next October. In some cases, the scholarships may allow funding for four years. The winners came from a group of 866 applicants who were endorsed by 299 colleges and universities. Four of the institutions had winners for the first time: Hunter College at the City University of New York; Temple University in Philadelphia; the University of Alaska in Anchorage; and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The 10 African Americans in the class include Simone Askew, of Fairfax, Virginia, who made headlines in August when she became the first black woman to serve as first captain of the 4,400-member Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy — the highest position in the cadet chain of command at West Point. Askew, a senior, is majoring in international history, focused her undergraduate thesis on the use of rape as a tool of genocide and plans to study evidence-based social intervention at Oxford.

Her mother told reporters over the summer: “That leadership is something I’ve seen throughout her life — wanting to be first, wanting to be the best, wanting to win, in sports, in academics, in every aspect of her life. … And to serve others, as well.”
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Kevin Young Named Poetry Editor at The New Yorker Magazine

Kevin Young (Credit Melanie Dunea/CP)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to nytimes.com, Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has been named the new poetry editor of The New Yorker magazine.

According to wikipedia.org, Young graduated from Harvard College in 1992, held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University (1992–94), and received his Master of Fine Arts from Brown University. While in Boston and Providence, he was part of the African-American poetry group the Dark Room Collective. He is heavily influenced by the poets Langston Hughes, John Berryman, and Emily Dickinson and by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Young is an esteemed poet and scholar whose work has been published in The New Yorker dating back to 1999.  His most recent work, “Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015,” made the 2016 National Book Award long list.

Young, 46, will officially take over the post in November, after he takes part in a passing of the torch of sorts: a reading and interview with current The New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon at the New Yorker Festival in the fall.

First Daughter Malia Obama Chooses to Attend Harvard

Malia Obama chooses Harvard (photo via above average.com)
Malia Obama chooses Harvard (photo via above average.com)
article by Angela Bronner Helm via theroot.com
After much speculation, Malia Obama, the eldest daughter of the President and First Lady has announced her plans to attend Harvard University, but not until 2017.

The White House announced her plans on Sunday, as well as her intention to take a “gap year” so that when she begins, her father will be out of office.

Malia is continuing the tradition of the Obamas who were both Ivy League graduates. Harvard is where both of her parents attended law school, and President Obama graduated from Columbia undergrad and Michelle Obama attended Princeton.

Malia will join a long list of presidential children who have attended the Ivy League school, including John Quincy Adams and his son, John Adams II; Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert; the sons of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt; Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy; and George W. Bush, who went to business school there.

The New York Times reports that Malia visited Harvard and a handful of other Ivy League and liberal arts schools last March on the East Coast, but because she accompanied her father to California last month, many believed Stanford was at the top of her list. Apparently Crimson won her heart.

Read more at the New York Times.

Actress Rashida Jones Named 2016 Harvard College Class Day Speaker

Rashida Jones (Photograph courtesy of Rashida Jones) 

article by Laura Levis via harvardmagazine.com

Actress and Harvard alumna Rashida Jones will be the principal guest speaker for Harvard College seniors celebrating their Class Day in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 25.  She was chosen and invited to speak by a subcommittee of eight class marshals, who considered speakers suggested by classmates as part of a senior-class survey.

“I am truly honored to come back to campus and speak at Class Day 2016. Harvard was such a transformative place for me in so many ways,” Jones said in a statement. “It’s where I first had the idea for Facebook, which went on to make me billions of dollars and change the world. Oh wait, that wasn’t me…”

Jones, an accomplished screenwriter, philanthropist, and comic-book author, is best known for her roles in more than 20 films, television shows such as The Office and Parks and Recreation, and, most recently, as the title character in the TBS comedy Angie Tribeca. The daughter of musician Quincy Jones and model turned The Mod Squad star Peggy Lipton, Jones said of her parents in a recent Vanity Fair profile that she is “the genetic expression of all their secret academic dreams.”

According to Harvard officials, nine alumni have been selected to deliver the Class Day address since 1968, with Jones not only the fourth consecutive alumna to give the address but also the first relative of a former Class Day speaker (her father, in 1997) to receive the honor.

“As a Harvard College alumna, Rashida Jones knows what it is like to balance commitments—whether it was her involvement with the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club, the Signet Society, or the Black Students Association—with academics and the many other facets of college life,” class marshal Gabriela Ruiz-Colon ’16, co-chair of the speaker-selection committee, said in a press release. “She has taken this experience and shown an extraordinary ability to use her celebrity platform to make the world a better place.”

To read more, go to: http://harvardmagazine.com/2016/04/rashida-jones-97-named-harvard-class-day-speaker-2016

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick Named 2015 Harvard Commencement Speaker

Patrick_605
Former Massachusetts Governor and Harvard Alumnus Deval L. Patrick (Photo: Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer)

Deval L. Patrick, who recently concluded two terms as the 71st governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will be the principal speaker at the Afternoon Exercises of Harvard’s 364th Commencement on May 28.

“Deval Patrick is an extraordinarily distinguished alumnus, a deeply dedicated public servant, and an inspiring embodiment of the American dream,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust. “We greatly look forward to welcoming him home to Harvard on Commencement Day.”

Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Patrick came to Massachusetts at age 14, having won a scholarship to Milton Academy through the Boston-based organization A Better Chance. He earned admission to Harvard College, as the first in his family to attend college, and spent a year in Africa after graduation on a Rockefeller Fellowship before studying for his law degree at Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

Early in his career, he served as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Los Angeles, as a staff attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund working on voting rights and death-penalty cases, and then as a partner at the Boston law firm Hill & Barlow.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton named him assistant attorney general for civil rights, the nation’s top civil rights post. In that role, he led the Justice Department’s efforts in such areas as prosecuting hate crimes and enforcing laws on employment discrimination, fair lending, and rights for the disabled.

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Brooklyn Prosecutor Loretta Lynch to be Nominated U.S. Attorney General

President Obama on Saturday will name Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, to replace Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., according to a source familiar with the process. Lynch would be the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official.  She would follow Holder, the first African-American attorney general. Holder has said he will stay on until his successor is confirmed.

Lynch, 55, is a longtime federal prosecutor who has the unusual distinction of serving in her current job twice: She was U.S. attorney for two years under President Clinton, and was disappointed that she was not reappointed by President George W. Bush. Obama reappointed her in 2010.

In contrast to other U.S. attorneys in New York, Lynch has shunned the limelight, rarely giving news conferences or interviews.

For that reason she is a relative unknown outside her district. But she came to prominence in New York in the late 1990s as the supervisor of the team that successfully prosecuted two police officers for the sexual assault with a broomstick of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Three other officers were acquitted.

Lynch grew up in Greensboro, N.C., the daughter of a Baptist minister and a school librarian. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.  Lynch has solid liberal credentials, having been associated with the Legal Aid Society in New York and the Brennan Center for Justice, named for former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., a liberal lion.

But she has establishment credentials as well, including serving on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Her low profile should make her potential confirmation easier than for some other candidates for the job, such as Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who drew repeated criticism from Republicans when he ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

article by Timothy M. Phelps and Michael A. Memoli via latimes.com

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to Lead Viewers on “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”

Neil Degrasse Tyson

NEW YORK — Bringing a long list of prepared questions to an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson is a fool’s errand. That’s not to say a conversation with the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History isn’t illuminating — quite the opposite.  It’s just that the gregarious astrophysicist can’t help but find science lurking in every corner, turning even the most banal transaction into a teaching moment. An offer of bottled water, for instance, unexpectedly turns into a lengthy digression about the difficulty of freezing distilled water and the origins of Gatorade.

Tyson’s zeal for knowledge is intoxicating and irresistible, even if it means less time for the ostensible topic of the conversation — his starring role in the documentary series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, premiering on Fox and National Geographic in March.  “I see myself as a servant of the public appetite for the universe,” says Tyson, seated in his office overlooking the giant white sphere of the Hayden Planetarium.

Scattered among hundreds of astronomy books are, among other things, a vanity plate reading “COZMIC,” a life-sized bust of Sir Isaac Newton, a half-dozen or so globes, a quill pen collection, a can of Dole pineapples in “cosmic fun shapes” and a pink boa.

Tyson’s combination of humor, intelligence and accessibility have made him one of the most recognizable scientists in the country and put him atop many fantasy dinner-party guest lists. The author or editor of 10 books, he maintains an active social media presence (1.5 million Twitter followers) and produces a radio show and podcast, “StarTalk Radio.” He’s also become a late-night TV regular, through frequent visits to The Daily ShowThe Colbert Report and Real Time With Bill Maher.

Now he’s moving into prime time with Cosmos, a follow-up to Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking 1980 PBS series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. In what may seem like an odd pairing, Seth MacFarlane serves as executive producer on the series. Tyson first met the Family Guy creator at a gathering of the Science and Entertainment Exchange in Los Angeles several years ago and later pitched him about getting involved in a Cosmos reboot.

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Alexis Wilkinson Becomes 1st Black Female President of Harvard Lampoon Magazine

Wilkinson_AlexisThe Harvard Lampoon, a respected humor magazine founded in 1876 and that serves as a pipeline to major comedy shows, has selected two women that are making a lot of history at the publication.

Alexis Wilkinson and Eleanor Parker represent the first time two women are leading the venerable magazine. Wilkinson is the first African-American president and the first black woman to earn the top job.  Parker, also African-American, will serve as vice president.

Wilkinson told NPR she didn’t set out to make history for the magazine, but along the way realized it was going to happen.  Parker said she thinks their place atop the magazine will make it easier for other women to get involved. They’re “hoping that having two women at the lead of the magazine encourages women on campus to apply and get involved and get excited about writing comedy.”

The moves come as Saturday Night Live has faced criticism for not having any black women in its cast. Recently, it held auditions exclusively for African-American women, and there are reportedly three finalists in the running.  Wilkinson said she paid attention to the conversation because of how important Saturday Night Live was to her growing up.

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Ellie Hylton Graduates Harvard With Highest Overall GPA

ellie hyltonGraduating senior Ethel “Ellie” Hylton graduated from Harvard College last week Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Sociology and earned the Sophia Freund Prize  for being the student with the highest overall GPA in her graduating class. Hylton was also inducted into the exclusive Phi Beta Kappa Society last fall.

Phi Beta Kappa doesn’t just induct anyone. Hylton is among great company, like Bill ClintonCondoleezza Rice and Tom Brokaw to name a few. The level of excellence this society boasts includes intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views and a broad range of academic interests. Hylton was chosen as the one graduating senior out of one hundred to be inducted.

For Harriet scored an interview with Hylton and she had this to say about success inside and outside the classroom:

“It sounds cliché, but I tried to follow the things that I was passionate about. When I started as a freshman in college, I thought that I would be pre-med. After taking a science course, I realized that I didn’t really love spending hours in the lab. When I took a course on social inequality, I was immediately hooked; I found that sociologists asked all the questions about the world that I was interested in. So, I decided to study sociology—a decision which opened up some great research opportunities for me. I think it’s important to follow the issues that excite you. Pursue the questions that keep you up at night (for a good reason), rather than the ones that feel like a burden to answer.”

What’s even more impressive about Ellie Hylton? Greatness runs in the family – both her parents attended Harvard and her mom graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1982. 

article by Danielle Young via hellobeautiful.com

Oprah Winfrey Gives Harvard Commencement Speech, Encourages Grads to Set “Inner Moral GPS” (VIDEO)

Oprah Winfrey at Harvard (Photograph by Jim Harrison)

Media titan and global philanthropist Oprah Winfrey gave the Commencement Address at Harvard College today after receiving an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University.  According to Harvard Magazine.com, Winfrey, appropriately clad in Crimson (the school color) gave a 30-minute address of inspiration, anecdote, and uplifting aphorisms, drawing on her own experience. She hoped to offer inspiration to “anyone who feels inferior or disadvantaged or screwed by life—this is a speech for the Quad” (a reference to the former Radcliffe, now College, residences considered by some undergraduates to be inferior to the Houses closer to the Charles River and the center of campus).

During her introduction, Winfrey said one did not have to have a Type A personality to come to Harvard (or to succeed in television), “but it helps.” Her original talk show had been an enormous success for a quarter-century, she noted, topping the ratings in its time slot for 21 years. But she felt the need for new challenges, stopped the program, and launched the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), only to see it become a dismal flop. A year ago, at the low point, she recalled, “the worst time in my professional life,” President Faust called to ask her to speak today. At that moment of stress, frustration, and embarrassment, Winfrey said, she could scarcely conceive of addressing successful Harvard graduates. She repaired to the shower (“It was either that or a bag of Oreos”), remembered the spiritual lyric “when the morning comes,” and determined that her professional woes would not last—that she would turn things around, certainly by the time of her Commencement address.

More broadly, she told the graduates, “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise,” no matter how they might raise their own bars and push themselves, they would surely stumble and fall. Then, they must remember, “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in a different direction”–even though, from deep in a hole, it might feel like failure.

To proceed, to learn from every mistake, the graduates must figure out the right next move by consulting their “inner moral GPS.” When members of the class of 2013 Google themselves hereafter, she said, their Harvard identity will always appear. But their success will be measured not by what they want to be; rather it will depend on who they want to be. Knowing who they want to be depends on creating the story that’s “about your purpose.”

Winfrey said she found her purpose in 1994, when she met a young girl who collected pocket change, ultimately amassing $1,000, to help others—an act that inspired Winfrey to call on viewers to do something similar. They collected $3 million in one month, she recounted, and established the Angel Network to fund education and build schools. That “focused my internal GPS,” she said, changing her purpose from appearing on television to determining to “use television and not be used by it.” She aimed to do so by finding the things that unite people and highlighting the transcendent nature of humans’ better selves.

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