Pitt’s Cory J. Rodgers Is Named 2012 Rhodes Scholarship Winner

Issue Date: 
December 5, 2011
Cory J. RodgersCory J. Rodgers

Cory J. Rodgers—who has been studying for a University of Pittsburgh Honors College and Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences BPhil degree in Africana studies and the history and philosophy of science and for a Dietrich School BS degree in biological sciences with a minor in chemistry—has been named a 2012 Rhodes Scholarship winner.

Rodgers is the seventh winner of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to have received a Pitt undergraduate education, the fourth in the past seven years. There are only 14 universities or colleges in the United States who have claimed the award at least four times in the last seven years. Pitt is one of only two public institutions to have done so; the other 12 are private schools.

Rodgers is a first-generation university student from Somerset, Pa. In 2011, he was Pitt’s inaugural recipient of the 2011 Samuel Huntington Public Service Award. He is spending this year in Tanzania on a project that assists people living with HIV and AIDS. As a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, Rodgers will seek to incorporate anthropological, cross-cultural, and human rights frameworks into an interdisciplinary approach to designing participatory health programs. He will pursue the MSc in medical anthropology during his first year and the MSc in migration studies during his second year. His goal is to be a medical practitioner working among people affected by displacement, urbanization, and cultural pluralism.

Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest of the international study awards available to U.S. students, provide two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

“The coveted Rhodes Scholarship is one of the highest honors available to young adults who successfully combine intellectual excellence, positive character, effective leadership, and a genuine concern for others,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “This prestigious award publicly recognizes individuals who have built an existing record of high achievement and impact and who are judged to have exceptional potential for future service to humankind. The entire University of Pittsburgh community congratulates Cory for earning this very special form of recognition and for further strengthening Pitt’s rich legacy of student success.”

“Cory Rodgers has the extraordinary curiosity and drive that characterize the finest undergraduate students at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Pitt Honors College Dean Edward Stricker. “He has sought opportunities, both at Pitt and abroad, in which he could explore disease modeling, administration of palliative care, and health policy, and his graduate work in medical anthropology at Oxford will further that education. The Rhodes Scholarship is recognition of his commitment to academic excellence and leadership in his journey to become an outstanding physician and global health practitioner.”

Rodgers is in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, working on an urban agricultural project for people with HIV/AIDS in the low-income Manzese area. He and two HIV support groups are using innovative farming techniques, raising free-range chickens, and managing water resources to improve the groups’ capacity to generate a sustainable source of food and income. The project utilizes participatory design techniques to involve group members at all stages of project research, planning, and implementation.

In 2010, Rodgers conducted a research project through Karagwe Development and Relief Services (KADERES) to identify the barriers created by HIV and AIDS, interviewing those affected, getting their perspectives, and capturing their experiences. KADERES plans to use Rodgers’ report in planning for its microfinancing programs, which provide loans to local peasants and small-holder farmers, funding for area clinics, and building projects.

Rodgers’ 2010 research experience in Tanzania included study in Swahili, cultural immersion, and service learning. In 2009, he also studied at the National University of Mongolia in Ulaabaatar, Mongolia, through a Pitt Honors College program.

As a Pitt undergraduate laboratory researcher in chemistry, Rodgers also took time to volunteer. Through the Pitt program “Keep It Real,” he tutored a Somali-Bantu refugee family; he also served as a hospice volunteer, assisting in daily patient care, and worked with Habitat for Humanity through Pitt’s Alternative Spring Break program. Rodgers also served in UPMC Patient Transport.

Among Rodgers’ many honors are a University Honors College Scholarship, a Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a Brackenridge Undergraduate Fellowship from Pitt’s Honors College, the Helen Pool Rush Award from Pitt’s Nationality Rooms Summer Study Abroad Scholarship Program, a Foundation for Asia Pacific Education Scholarship, the Sigma Phi Epsilon Balanced Man Scholarship Award, and election to membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

This year’s Rhodes U.S. winners—32 students from 18 institutions of higher learning—came from a pool of 210 interviewees from 99 colleges and universities. Those chosen will enter the University of Oxford next October.

Rhodes Scholarships are the legacy of British colonial pioneer, statesman, and philanthropist Cecil J. Rhodes, who died in 1902. Although intellectual distinction is a necessary requirement for selection as a Rhodes Scholar, it is not sufficient. The selection process seeks excellence in qualities of mind and of person, which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. Thus, winners are chosen on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential, and physical vigor, among other attributes.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending upon the academic field, the degree (bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral), and the Oxford college chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence at Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England.

Pitt’s other six Rhodes Scholars are David Frederick (1983), who graduated from Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences in 1983; Donna Roberts (1987), who graduated from the Dietrich School in 1985; Nathan Urban (1991), who received an undergraduate degree in 1991 and graduate degrees in 1996 and 1998 from the Dietrich School; Justin Chalker (2006), who graduated from the Dietrich School in 2006; Daniel Armanios (2007), who graduated from the Dietrich School and the Swanson School of Engineering in 2007; and Eleanor Ott (2010), who graduated from the Dietrich School in 2009.