Sara Johansen '11 Named a Rhodes Scholar Finalist

November 11, 2010

TACOMA, Wash. – Sara Johansen ’11, a molecular and cellular biology major and music minor at University of Puget Sound, has been named a finalist in the search for America’s 2011 Rhodes Scholars. Thirty-two Rhodes Scholarships are awarded to United States citizens annually, giving the recipients the opportunity to study for two years in a degree program at University of Oxford, England.

Johansen will be interviewed late next week by the District 14 Selection Committee and the awardees will be announced late on Saturday, Nov. 20. The Puget Sound senior is among about 15 district finalists, from which the committee will choose two Rhodes Scholars.

If awarded the scholarship, Johansen plans to study for a Master of Science in Global Health Science at Oxford. While enrolled she would pursue her interest in maternal and child health, and engage in research on the successes and failures of current women’s health initiatives in Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. In addition to her academic studies, Johansen hopes to play in the orchestra at the prestigious university. Johansen has a lifelong passion for the violin and, as Concertmaster of Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra, she is involved in frequent performances at Puget Sound. Once back in the United States, she would attend medical school and then return to work in her home state of Alaska.

“My ultimate goal is to work within rural Native-Alaskan villages to establish community programs that focus on consistent primary care and culturally sensitive health education in women’s reproductive health,” Johansen said.

Puget Sound students applying for a Rhodes Scholarship are vetted and assisted by the Fellowships Office, directed by Sharon Chambers Gordon, and by the Graduate Fellowships Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor David Tinsley.

The Rhodes Scholarship was created as the result of a gift from former South African Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes, following his death in 1902. Rhodes, who also founded the diamond company De Beers, wanted to give students from around the world the opportunity to study at Oxford. Applicants for the scholarship are judged by criteria including literary and scholastic attainments; courage, devotion to duty, and unselfishness; and an instinct to lead and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.

Press-quality photos of Sara Johansen are available on request.

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Photos: Top right: Sara Johansen. Above: The Radcliffe Camera reading room, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.