- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2005

Three college students from Montgomery County are among the 32 Americans selected as Rhodes scholars for 2006.

William L. Hwang and Rahul Satija, both of Potomac, and 1st Class Midshipman Nicholas M. Schmitz, of Bethesda, will begin attending Oxford University in England in October. The scholarship trust officially announced the winners yesterday.

“It almost hasn’t even sunk in and it’s been almost 24 hours,” said Midshipman Schmitz, who is double majoring in political science and economics. “It’s a dream come true.”

Mr. Hwang, 21, is majoring in three subjects at Duke University, where he is a member of the national champion volleyball team. His grades have been “A-plus,” except once when he got “only an A.”

Mr. Hwang is a graduate of Montgomery Blair High School and is the founder of the nonprofit United InnoWorks Academy, which develops creative science and engineering programs for youths with underprivileged backgrounds.

Mr. Hwang’s father, Phillip Hwang, said his son has written two books and intends to pursue an education for a career in medical research, to teach at universities or to mentor students.

At Duke, Mr. Hwang is majoring in physics, biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering.

Mr. Hwang has won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and National Science Foundation awards. At Oxford, he will study for a doctorate in biological physics. At Blair High, he won all-county honors as a member of the school’s volleyball team.

Mr. Satija, 20, is majoring in biology and music and minoring in mathematics at Duke. He holds Duke’s only music performance scholarship. A violinist, Mr. Satija is concert master of the Duke Symphony Orchestra.

“He called us [Saturday]. We are very happy,” his father, Sushil Satija, said yesterday.

Rahul Satija’s studies focus on bioinformatics, sea urchin genomes and the smallpox virus. Being the first violinist of a student string quartet, Mr. Satija teaches violin to inner-city youths in Durham, N.C.

Mr. Satija is a graduate of Montgomery Blair High School.

Midshipman Schmitz is at the scholastic top of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and is a contender as a varsity gymnast for an All American title.

One of eight children, Midshipman Schmitz attended Walt Whitman High School and Georgetown Preparatory School until he dropped out and enlisted in the Marines.

After becoming a corporal, Midshipman Schmitz enrolled in the Naval Academy. At Oxford, he plans to concentrate on political theory studies, seeking degrees in political science and economics. He will minor in Japanese studies.

Midshipman Schmitz is first in his class in overall order of merit. He plans to serve in the Marine Corps.

Four students at the U.S. Naval Academy were selected as Rhodes scholars, the highest number for 2006 and the first time it has happened at the school, said Cmdr. Rod Gibbons, an academy spokesman.

Duke, Yale University and the University of Chicago each had three winners.

The 2006 scholars were selected from 903 applicants who were endorsed by 333 colleges and universities. The scholarships are the oldest of the international study awards available to American students and provide two or three years of study at Oxford.

The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes.

The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from more than a dozen other nations around the world. About 85 scholars from at least 14 nations are selected each year.

With the winners announced yesterday, 3,078 Americans have won Rhodes scholarships, representing 307 colleges and universities. The value of the Rhodes Scholarship averages about $40,000 per year.

Past Rhodes scholars include former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, singer Kris Kristofferson, and James William Fulbright, creator of the Fulbright Scholarship.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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