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Last modified: Monday, November 22, 2010

IU student Esther Uduehi named Rhodes Scholar

Nov. 22, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Esther Uduehi, a senior at Indiana University Bloomington majoring in chemistry and mathematics, has been named a Rhodes Scholar for 2011. She is one of 32 Americans who have been selected for the prestigious academic award.

Uduehi, of Evansville, Ind., becomes the 15th IU student -- and second in as many years -- to receive a Rhodes Scholarship, which provides all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford In England. (Mutsa Mutembwa of Zimbabwe, who graduated in May, received the 2010 Rhodes Scholarship.)

"Esther is a truly remarkable student and is most deserving of this honor," said IU President Michael McRobbie. "All of us at Indiana University are extremely proud of what she has achieved during her years of study here and are excited for her to continue her academic pursuits at Oxford."

Uduehi, a Herman B Wells Scholar who entered the fall semester with a 3.93 grade point average, was one of three finalists from IU for the award. IU has now had four Rhodes Scholars since 2001.

"It's a great privilege not only to receive the Rhodes Scholarship but also to represent Indiana University," said Uduehi. "As happy as I am that I won the award, I am equally happy that IU had three finalists, who demonstrated the academic excellence and integrity of this university. I'm looking forward to continuing my career at Oxford and expanding on the great educational foundation that I received at IU."

Uduehi added that she was grateful for the support of her teachers and administrators at IU as well as her family. Her parents emigrated from Nigeria in 1988, the year before Uduehi was born, in hopes of providing a better life for Uduehi, her brother, Joshua, and her sister, Elizabeth, who is a junior at IU.

"This scholarship has meant a lot to me and to my family, and we are extremely grateful for all that IU has done for us," she said.

A former valedictorian at F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville, Ind., Uduehi entered IU in 2007 as a recipient of the Wells Scholarship, created in honor of the late IU Chancellor Herman B Wells and one of the most competitive and prestigious awards offered by any U.S. university. That same year she was also named a National Achievement Scholar and a Senator Richard G. Lugar Scholar, and received the Indianapolis Star Minority Achievement Award. This year, she received the Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis Scholarship, named after the former IU chancellor, and the Council on Advancing Student Leadership Top Ten Student Leader Award.

Uduehi is currently the vice president of IU's Board of Aeons, a 12-member student board that conducts research projects for the president's office. This fall, she also began serving as IU's second-ever Presidential Student Intern. As part of her intern responsibilities, she is a member of a new committee, established by McRobbie, that is examining the university's approaches to teaching and learning and their impact on student achievement.

Uduehi is a participant in IU's Science, Technology and Research Scholars (STARS) program, as well as the McNair Scholars program. She has worked in the laboratory of IU chemistry professor Amar Flood since her freshman year.

The Rhodes Scholarship will enable Uduehi to return to Oxford, where she studied as a visiting student in chemistry and biochemistry last fall. That experience followed a summer spent in Russia as a participant in the U.S.-Russia Global Health Care Study Program.

While at IU, Uduehi has co-founded the IU Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) and the IU Photography Society, served as diversity director for the IU Student Association, interned with the IU Premed Summer Experience Program, served as the first student docent at the IU Art Museum, and conducted teaching internships in the departments of Biology and Mathematics.

Uduehi is interested in a career in medicinal chemistry research and has given several national research presentations, including a presentation earlier this year at the Harvard Medical School.

The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest international fellowships, were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902 and bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford. The first American scholars entered Oxford in 1904. Uduehi and her fellow Rhodes Scholarship recipients will enter Oxford in October 2011.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university. More than 1,500 students each year seek their institution's endorsement; this year, 837 students were endorsed by 309 different colleges and universities.

For more on the Rhodes Scholarships, including a list of other 2011 scholars, go to

Below is a list of all of IU's Rhodes Scholarship winners.

IU Rhodes Scholarship Winners

  • 1905 Frank Aydelotte
  • 1913 Richard Simpson
  • 1919 Ernest R. Baltzell
  • 1920 Ernest K. Lindley
  • 1925 Philip Rice
  • 1928 Harlan Logan
  • 1953 Joseph B. Board
  • 1964 Stephen K. Smith
  • 1970 William H. Wolfe
  • 1983 Barbara J. Toman
  • 1985 Joel Thomas-Adams
  • 1994 Zachary J. Ziliak
  • 2001 Raju Raval
  • 2003 Kathleen Tran
  • 2010 Mutsa Mutembwa
  • 2011 Esther Uduehi