- Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

A 21-year-old from Austin is one of 32 Americans named Sunday as Rhodes Scholars who will pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University.

Mikaila V. Smith, a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, is among the 2017 recipients announced by the Rhodes Trust. Smith, a dual U.S.-Australia citizen, has grown up in Austin. She was mostly homeschooled before attending UT, where she has studied international and long-term strategies for refugee populations.

She told the Associated Press on Sunday that when she goes to Oxford, she’ll continue her studies focused on refugees.

“What I’m really passionate about is global governance and diplomacy and then within that, refugee studies. I’ve been volunteering with refugee populations since high school and that’s what I’m planning to study at Oxford,” she said, adding she’s interested in focusing on how to provide education and employment opportunities to refugees.

She’ll graduate from UT next month and begin her studies in Oxford next fall.

“I think it’s more important than ever to interact with groups that we don’t typically interact with and to look beyond the way that we see different groups being represented in the media or in political diatribe and to really get to know the people that you’re talking about. That can be refugees but it can be any other group as well,” she said.

She’s a Presidential Scholar at UT with majors in social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management and Chinese.

Smith said she doesn’t know exactly what she’ll do once she finishes all of her studies, but is interested in the work of the United Nations.

Her father is the novelist Dominic Smith, whose most recent book was “The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.” Her mother, Laura Smith, is a doula.

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