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2 July 2003

Youngest-ever Rhodes Scholar prepares for future

Devi Sridhar, an eighteen-year-old UM senior, is the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholar award, the first recipient from UM since 1987.
“It was a little unexpected,” Sridhar said about winning the award. “When I heard I won, I just went blank… Even when I was a regional finalist I didn’t even think I had a shot.”
Yet Sridhar’s many accomplishments made her an ideal recipient. Among her many achievements, Sridhar is an accomplished violinist and a ranked tennis player. She is also fluent in five languages and has written a children’s book with her siblings titled, Puzzle Your Way Through Indian Mythology.
Criteria for winning the award includes a high level of academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, a potential for leadership and physical vigor. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford, as well as during vacations and transportation to and from England.
Sridhar and 31 other Rhodes Scholars from the U.S. joined an international group of scholars, chosen from 18 other jurisdictions around the world. Sridhar, who graduated in May with a degree in biology, plans to pursue either a master’s degree in economics or neuroscience while at Oxford.
“I’m so proud of Devi being selected as a Rhodes Scholar,” UM President Donna E. Shalala said. “She has accomplished so much for someone her young age. Her outstanding academic record, combined with her musical and linguistic talents and concern for children unquestionably satisfies the Rhodes criteria for leadership and character.”
Sridhar attributes much of her motivation to her supportive parents and competitive siblings.
“Every single person in my family is always trying to be the best,” Sridhar said. “My parents both gave me a lot of attention and support. Whenever I developed interest in things, they always gave me the opportunity to do them.”
While still at UM, Sridhar worked with Shalala, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Clinton administration.
“We spent some time this spring exploring issues of health policy,” Shalala said to the Associated Press [AP]. “Who knows, she might be the secretary of Health and Human Services someday.”