Rhodes no surprise to Parker's teachersBy Jennifer Vanasco
In the midst of finals, Kirsten Parker's phone was ringing off the hook. "It's been kind of hard to study with everyone calling back-to-back," the College fourth-year said in an interview shortly before winter break, "but I'm really excited. And shell-shocked. It doesn't seem real yet."
At the onset of finals week last quarter, Parker learned that she had won a Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford University. She was immediately inundated with requests for TV, radio and newspaper interviews.
Parker's teachers weren't surprised at the award, or at the attention. They consider her an outstanding example of a Rhodes Scholar. She took microeconomics with Allen Sanderson, Senior Lecturer in Economics, and he said that she received such a high score on his midterm that she "messed up the rest of the grade distribution."
He added, "She's obviously a terrific student, the kind that professors like to teach and parents like to brag about. But she's also thoughtful, objective and a really wonderful, great person."
Parker is planning to do master's research at Oxford on how politics affect the economic development of Latin America. She is concentrating in anthropology and political science and has volunteered extensively for Chicago Housing Authority projects, helping to build a playground for Randolph Towers and reading to children. Parker, 21, is one of 32 winners from around the country.
"We are all very excited about this news," said Katie Nash, Dean of Students in the College. "Kirsten could not be more deserving, and we're very proud and happy that she has joined the ranks of Rhodes Scholars."
The Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships offered to college students, was established in 1902 by Cecil Rhodes, a British colonial financier. It provides tuition and a stipend to 32 Americans for two years of study in any field at Oxford University. Approximately 1,200 students from around the United States apply each year.
But Parker is modest about the honor. "I'm just happy that I know what I'm doing next year," she said.