Two NYU Abu Dhabi seniors, Maitha Salem AlMemari and Chaimaa Fadil, have been named this year’s Rhodes Scholars representing the United Arab Emirates. Scholarships are awarded to more than 200 students from 64 different countries each year.
The two students now have the opportunity to pursue their postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. With 10 students selected for the Rhodes Scholars program in the past five years, NYUAD currently holds the highest acceptance rate of Rhodes Scholars per capita of any university worldwide.
AlMemari is majoring in social research and public policy and minoring in legal studies and political science. According to a statement made by NYUAD, she is currently working on her senior capstone project, which is focusing on academic decisions made by Emirati youth.
AlMemari said that she was moved by her selection and that she is looking forward to the academically enriching opportunities her future holds.
“I was honestly beyond ecstatic,” AlMemari said. “I hope that becoming a Rhodes Scholar empowers me with knowledge of diverse perspectives and connections with global leaders, who are just as passionate as I am about community service.”
Fadil is a biology major and her studies focus on computer science and applied mathematics. She spent eight months in a New York laboratory, and her senior capstone project focuses on cellular neural diversity in fruit flies. Eventually, she hopes to pursue a career in genomic research.
“As much as this scholarship is an award, it is also a responsibility for me,” Fadil said in a comment to NYUAD. “History has its eyes on us, and I hope we will be up to the task.”
The application process for the Rhodes Scholars program is twofold. First, applicants must be recognized and endorsed by their respective universities. The recognized students must then submit a written application and letters of recommendation and be interviewed by representatives of the Rhodes Scholars program.
NYUAD Director of Global Awards Doug Cutchins said NYUAD emphasizes that it wishes all of its applicants, both those selected for the program and those denied, feel supported for entering their applications.
“I want every one of our students who applies to these awards to feel like they gained from the process of applying,” Cutchins said. “Some of them will win, and that’s great, but we don’t let the subjective decisions of a committee determine whether or not a student ‘succeeded’ in the application process.”
Despite NYUAD’s high rate of success in sending applicants to the Rhodes Scholars program, the university claims that it does not make producing Rhodes Scholars a specific point of emphasis in its endeavors.
“[NYUAD’s high rates of Rhodes Scholars] is a happy byproduct of bringing together some of the world’s best students in an intensive environment where they get outstanding teaching, the ability to conduct top-notch research and the opportunity to pursue their passions on a global scale,” Cutchins said.
AlMemari highly praises the NYUAD community for its support of her academic pursuits.
“The community at [NYUAD] is one that always inspired me to be the best version of myself and always strive for the best and so I am always grateful for that,” AlMemari said. “I am also very grateful for the supportive and encouraging community that truly made me believe in myself and my abilities.”
Correction: Dec. 1
A previous version of this article attributed quotes from NYUAD Director of Global Awards Doug Cutchins to NYUAD Executive Director of Public Affairs & Communications Kate Chandler. The article has since been fixed.
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