Yale Student from McLean, Virginia, Wins Rhodes Scholarship

Christopher Wells, a senior at Yale College, has received a coveted Rhodes scholarship for study next year at the University of Oxford in England.

Wells was one of 32 winners chosen from 963 applicants representing 366 colleges and universities.

A history major with a strong interest in the Middle East, Wells will use the scholarship to pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in that subject.

Wells credits a visit he made to Cairo to learn Arabic as critical to his decision to make the region his particular area of expertise.

He recalls being struck by the contrasts between ancient and modern in the city. “Cairo has layers of history going back to 3000 B.C.,” he said. He noted that the urban landscape includes Coca Cola billboards, on the one hand, and donkeys transporting goods, on the other.

The Middle East appealed to him not just for its historical significance, but also for the critical role it plays in American foreign policy and international relations.

At Yale, Wells was enrolled in the International Security Studies program, which offers advanced undergraduates and graduate students a chance to learn “grand strategy.” Celebrated Yale historian Paul Kennedy helped to devise the interdisciplinary course in international policy, corporate planning and public affairs, which helps to prepare students for the leadership positions many of them will someday assume. Wells hopes to make a career in government.

In addition to an outstanding academic record, Wells is on Yale’s Varsity Soccer team, and is the first Yale soccer player to receive a Rhodes. He is especially grateful to his team for support and encouragement throughout the long application process. At Yale he has also participated in a number of theatrical productions.

Rhodes Scholarships provide two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. The oldest of the international study awards available to American students, the Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by British philanthropist and colonial pioneer Cecil Rhodes. Applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in Rhodes’ will: “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.”

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345