When University of Pittsburgh graduate Eleanor M. Ott found out Saturday that she had been picked as a 2010 Rhodes scholar, she had what many would consider a predictable reaction: "My legs starting shaking. I was in disbelief."
Today, she is celebrating.
The 23-year-old from Lawrence, Kansas -- a triple major in French, history and chemistry -- said she hopes one day to be the United Nation's high commissioner on refugees. "It's a lofty goal but that would be ideal,'' she said.
It's not the first time Ms. Ott was picked for a prestigious award. She was a Truman Scholar in 2008.
She is the sixth Pitt honors college student chosen to win the international Rhodes award since 1983.
Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest of the international study awards available to American students, provide two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
The Rhodes Trust yesterday named 32 scholars for 2010 from throughout the United States.
At Pitt, Ms. Ott has served as co-president and education chair for FORGEPitt (Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Empowerment), a refugee advocacy organization that she helped found in 2005. In this capacity, and working with Catholic Charities, local refugees have been helped in obtaining clothing and in starting a mentoring program to develop job skills.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.