Motivation and mentoring make the difference
Messiah College's first Rhodes Scholar, Joy Yu-Ho Wang '98 studied at Oxford University in England and then went .on to complete her Ph.D. in post-colonial studies in 2005.
Joy Yu-Ho Wang ’98 stared eagerly at the windowless conference room door looming at the end of the hallway of a Philadelphia inn. She sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the best, awaiting some word, some nod of the head, a twinkle in the eye—something that would indicate that the committee huddled inside had decided one of the Rhodes scholarships was hers. Winning the prestigious award would give her the opportunity to live abroad and study at Oxford University. It was the same dream shared by the eight others in the tension-filled space—all students from renowned institutions like Cornell, Harvard, and Dartmouth. The other finalists competing for the Rhodes were from schools that had been churning out award-winners almost as an afterthought. But Wang was Messiah’s first to struggle through this arduous Rhodes process. She had no one she could ask “So, what was it like? What can I expect?”
The process to apply for the Rhodes had been more rigorous than she imagined, but the sweat and strain of months of writing and rewriting essays and applications, the endless trekking to appointments, the grueling interviews were finally nearing an end. Here she was, waiting for the final interview in a room where some of the other Rhodes candidates had resorted to playing paper football just to rip through the thick tension. Others patiently sipped tea or made small talk. One by one they slipped through the conference doors. Some prepared themselves for the outcome by shrugging matter-of-factly, while others seemed to be rationalizing their next move if they didn’t make the last cut.
The suspense continued to mount until a week later when Wang and the other finalists gathered to hear the verdict on their scholarly candidacy. Almost without fanfare the final announcement arrived—a blur of names and congratulations. The paper football instigator got the Rhodes. Two others, one from Harvard and another from Wellesley, got it too. And to her sheer joy, so did the young woman from the small Christian college in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
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