MCB concentrator Jin Park has been named one of the 2019 Rhodes Scholars, and will be attending Oxford University next fall. Park is also the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student to be named to the Rhodes scholarship program.
Park applied for the Rhodes program at the urging of Greg Llacer, director of the Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (URAF). Despite the fact that the Rhodes committee’s policy disqualified undocumented students at the time, Park found out that Harvard would support his application as part of their history of “protest endorsements.” For example, they had submitted similar applications for women in the 1970s before women were allowed to apply for the program.
At first he was thanked for his application, but told that he would not be considered due to his immigration status. However, the Rhodes trust committee reconsidered their policy in time to accept Park to their program.
“How I feel winning the Rhodes is still unclear to me,” Park said. “I feel neither happy nor sad. I just feel still. The only thing close to an emotion I feel right now is just immense, inexpressible gratitude. Gratitude for my parents, my professors and colleagues, for Harvard and Cabot House, for the City of New York, and for America.”
MCB faculty Sean Eddy and Elena Rivas were among those who wrote letters of recommendation for Park’s application.
“In our joint letter to the Rhodes Fellowship selection committee, Elena and I wrote that Jin is one of the most impressive individuals we have ever encountered in our careers,” said Eddy. “[We wrote that] he is a new national and international leader in the making, and that we hope to have the chance to vote for him for President someday.”
Park is the creator of the nonprofit Higher Dreams, an online resource that offers advice and a community for undocumented students applying for college. During his upcoming time at Oxford, Park plans to work towards masters degrees in migration studies and global health science and epidemiology.