Three Stanford seniors and one alumnus named Rhodes Scholars

Three Stanford seniors and one alumnus will pursue studies at Oxford University beginning October 2018 as Rhodes Scholars. (Update: A fourth student was named as a Rhodes Scholar in December. See related story below.)

Seniors Madeleine Chang of San Francisco, Michael Chen of Boulder, Colorado, and Alexis Kallen of Ventura, California have been named 2018 American Rhodes Scholars, according to an announcement made Nov. 18 by the Rhodes Trust.

The three seniors join alumnus Jelani Munroe, who was earlier notified that he would be the Rhodes Scholar from Jamaica. Other international Rhodes Scholars are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

The Rhodes Trust announced the names of 32 Americans as Rhodes Scholars, who the press release said reflect “the rich diversity of America.” The group includes 10 African-Americans, African and Asian immigrants; other Asian, Muslim and Latino Americans; an Alaska Native; a transgender man; and four scholars from colleges that have never before elected Rhodes Scholars in the 115 years of the scholarships.

Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England and may allow funding in some instances for four years. The new Rhodes Scholars will enter Oxford in October 2018. Rhodes Scholars are chosen based on their commitment to making a difference in the world, a concern for the welfare of others, a consciousness of inequities and leadership skills.


Madeleine Chang

Madeleine Chang portrait

Madeleine Chang (Image credit: Courtesy of Madeleine Chang)

According to the Rhodes announcement, Chang is a senior majoring in history who “envisions an ethnical framework for the digital world, a set of rights that anticipate the social and political implications of the Internet and the data collection that enables it.”

Chang’s honors thesis analyzes the Wikipedia entry about the Israel-Palestine conflict, challenging the website’s organizing principle that crowd-sourcing can produce stable, coherent and accurate accounts of any topic.

Chang serves as the co-president of the American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford, where she directs a team that organizes more than 200 people “seeding social and political change in the Middle East and the United States.” Chang speaks Arabic, Spanish and Hebrew and intends to study for an M.Sc. in Social Science of the Internet at Oxford.


Michael Chen

Michael Chen portrait

Michael Chen (Image credit: Courtesy of Michael Chen)

Chen is a chemistry major whose research spans both biology and chemistry. He has investigated the neuronal basis of motivation and zeolite membranes as a promising technology for more energy-efficient gas separations.

Chen is president of Stanford Synapse, a student group that supports patients with traumatic brain injuries and is a member of the Kayumanggi Filipino Dance Team. He hopes to pursue a career as a physician-scientist focusing on quality of life for traumatic brain injury patients.

At Oxford, he will pursue master’s degrees in Computer Science and Neuroscience.


Alexis Kallen

Alexis Kallen portrait

Alexis Kallen (Image credit: Courtesy of Alexis Kallen)

Alexis Kallen is a senior majoring in political science and in feminist, gender and sexuality studies. Her honors thesis analyzes why international law is failing to protect Burundian refugees fleeing from Burundi into Rwanda from sexual assault.

Kallen has been an advocate against campus sexual assault at Stanford, encouraging the installation of external video cameras to deter sexual assaults and to help solve crimes. She is the chair of Stanford in Government, Stanford’s largest student group, president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science Honor Society, and a regional advisor for the Western United States to Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation. She hopes to pursue a career as an international human rights lawyer.

Kallen was Stanford’s student Convocation speaker this past fall. At Oxford, she will read for an M. Phil. in Development Studies.


Jelani Munroe

Jelani Munroe (Image credit: Courtesy of Jelani Munroe)

According to news coverage in the Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer, Munroe was named the 2018 Jamaica Rhodes Scholar by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. At Oxford, he will pursue a master of Philosophy in Development Studies.

The secretary of the Jamaican selection committee, Peter Goldson, told the Observer, “Jelani, based on his academic record… is clearly someone who is very intelligent and concerned about helping the less privileged in Jamaica. He’s a young man who is full of energy, full of dynamism, and we believe he will really make an impact in Jamaica in years to come.”

Munroe holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and public policy from Stanford. He is currently working as the financial manager of the Associated Students of Stanford University and chief executive officer of Stanford Student Enterprises. While studying at Stanford, he served as director of Talisman.

If students are interested in learning more about the Rhodes – or if Stanford faculty and staff wish to nominate students – they should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center, at dmurk@stanford.edu; or John Pearson, director emeritus of the Bechtel International Center, at john.pearson@stanford.edu.