On Saturday, the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, Elliot Gerson, announced that a senior at Harvard University is the first DACA recipient to be given the Rhodes Scholarship.
Twenty-two-year-old, Jin Kyu Park, was awarded the Rhodes scholarship to continue his education at the University of Oxford in England.
Park was born in South Korea and came to the United States at 7. He grew up in New York.
The Rhodes Scholarship will cover full financial assistance for him to pursue a degree in two or three years.
Parks said, “When they first announced it, it was really–I felt nothing, but like an immense gratitude…Now that gratitude has given way to kind of a desire to use this opportunity to make sure I lift up others in the community. There’s no way something like this belongs to just one person.”
The U.S. organizer for the program explained that Park’s had previously applied for the Rhodes scholarship, but DACA recipients had not been eligible for the award at that time.
American Secretary for the Trust, Gerson, said that they felt Parks was an “extraordinarily qualified” candidate, but eligibility policies could not be changed during the application process last year. From then on, Gerson went to the trustees and proposed expanding the eligibility so that DACA students would be able to apply.
Once expanding the eligibility was agreed upon, they began advertising nationally.
Gerson commented, “In looking for those Americans with extraordinary talent, a combination of academic excellence with character leadership and ambition to serve others, we didn’t want to exclude Dreamers who are, in our opinion, such important Americans and who offer so much to this country and to the world.”
Park had not expected that the eligibility change would happen so fast after his first application process. “It came out of nowhere,” he said, “I didn’t expect any of that to happen.”
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