State News

Nov 25, 2013 11:55 AM

2 From Texas Awarded Rhodes Scholarships

DALLAS - Two Texas scholars will continue their studies at the University of Oxford in England next year as recipients of coveted Rhodes scholarships.

Melissa McCoy and John Mikhael, both from Dallas, were among 32 Americans announced as winners Saturday by The Rhodes Trust.

McCoy, 23, who graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012, will pursue a master of science in environmental chemical engineering at Oxford. At Georgia Tech she co-founded an organization focused on the problem of post-disaster water scarcity, a pilot of which was run with the Red Cross in a Chilean town destroyed by an earthquake.

McCoy said Sunday that that experience reinforced for her the importance of water management and purification and evolved into the personal goal she conveyed to her interviewing panel: empowering people to help themselves through technology.

McCoy described receiving word of her award as "surreal."

"You never really think of yourself ever as being a Rhodes scholar," she said.

Mikhael, a 2013 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he researches cognitive neuroscience, will pursue a doctorate in neuroscience. At MIT, Mikhael majored in mathematics and focused he research on the algorithms that "underlie our ability to perform functions such as language and social perception," according to The Rhodes Trust. He holds U.S. and Lebanese citizenship and worked as a tutor and lecturer in Syria and Lebanon.

Rhodes scholarships cover all expenses for two or three years of study at Oxford. They are awarded to students based on academic achievement, character, unselfishness, respect, potential for leadership and physical vigor. About 1,750 students sought their university's endorsement for the prize this year.

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