Wen Shi, a Johns Hopkins University senior from West Bloomfield, Mich., who was born in China and came to the United States knowing little English barely four years ago, has been selected as a Rhodes Scholar.
Shi is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars chosen nationwide from among 963 applicants at 366 colleges and universities. Shi is also the only winner from a Maryland institution among this year's class of scholars, announced late Saturday.
Shi, a 20-year-old biology major, plans to conduct cancer research at Oxford University's Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, examining the role of hypoxia inducible factors in endothelial and cancer cell biology. He hopes his research will lead to ways to make cancer a manageable disease like high blood pressure. Shi will study toward a doctorate in medical oncology.
"My proposed project will allow me to build upon my current research interest in cancer signaling and make discoveries with potential impact," Shi wrote in his Rhodes application essay. "I am determined to dedicate my lifetime, knowledge and skills to humanity's conquest of cancer."
"Wen has an incisive intellect and ability to quickly assimilate new information with critical examination," said Kathleen Gabrielson, an assistant professor of comparative medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Shi has worked in her laboratory since October 2001 and is listed as a co-author on two of Gabrielson's publications. "These qualities have enabled him to adjust and excel so quickly in his new home in the United States."
Shi was born and raised in China, where he grew up in the home of his grandparents. In April 1999 at the age of 15, he immigrated to the United States to join his father, Arthur. Shi enrolled in English as a second language courses and by his senior year at Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., he was taking Advanced Placement English. Today, he helps other immigrants learn the language.
"From my personal experience, I empathize with my students' hopes and fears, and employ a variety of didactic methods to improve their English skills," Shi wrote in his Rhodes essay. "Moreover, I use my own example to show them that America is truly the land of opportunity: With hard work and perseverance, they too can fulfill their dreams."
In addition to his studies at Johns Hopkins, Shi is a member of several extracurricular organizations. He is the co-founder of Partners in Sexual Health Education, a group of Johns Hopkins undergraduates and medical students who develop and teach sex education and violence prevention to incarcerated youth in Baltimore. He has volunteered at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Moore AIDS Clinic. He's a member of the Johns Hopkins University Undergraduate Ethics Board, which promotes academic integrity on campus. In addition to participating in various campus service and diversity groups, Shi is also a volunteer with the Hopkins Emergency Undergraduate Response Unit, a team of students who provide 24-hour emergency care to faculty, staff, students and visitors to the Homewood campus.
Shi is attending Johns Hopkins University with the financial assistance of a Bloomberg Scholarship, a need-based aid program funded by alumnus and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Without financial aid and the support of his team of academic advisors at Johns Hopkins, Shi said he would not have earned the Rhodes, one of academia's highest honors.
"I can make my most significant contributions by combining my enthusiasm for studying science and passion for helping others in a medical research career," Shi wrote in his essay. "I had come to Hopkins only wanting to be a medical doctor; however, I changed my mind when I learned that illnesses such as heart disease and cancer afflict millions worldwide."
Johns Hopkins' most recent previous Rhodes Scholar was Westley W. Moore of Pasadena, Md., who was also a senior when he was selected in December 2000. Rhodes Scholarships, among the most prestigious in the world, provide winners with two or three years all-expense-paid study at the Oxford University in England.
The Rhodes Scholarships were created by the will of British colonialist and statesman Cecil Rhodes, who died in 1902. His aim was to bring together young students with leadership potential from throughout the English-speaking world for advanced study at Oxford, personal development and exposure to cultures other than their own. He hoped, according to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, to promote international understanding and peace. The selection criteria for Rhodes Scholars include intellectual achievement, concern for others, character, leadership potential and "physical vigor." In all Rhodes Scholars are selected from 19 countries or regions of the world, though the U.S. contingent is the largest.
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