With 882 applicants going up for one of 32 coveted slots, the Rhodes Scholarship is extremely competitive. Despite the very low odds, Oscar De Los Santos received a scholarship to further his education at Oxford University. He plans to read for a master of public policy and a master of studies in theology at the UK university. De Los Santos – born in Los Angeles to two formerly undocumented parents – is the only Latino on this year’s list, something he laments.
“I would like to express my disappointment that I was the only Latino Rhodes Scholar selected this year,” he told the Associated Press. “I personally know hundreds of talented, deserving young Latinos around the country who would contribute to and benefit tremendously from the Rhodes. I’m disappointed that powerful institutions continue to underestimate and marginalize the talents of people of color.”
Graduating at the top of his class at the University of Southern California in 2015, De Los Santos became a Truman Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, and received USC’s highest honor – the Order of the Laurel and Palm, a distinction that only goes to 20 undergrads yearly. The city of Los Angeles also named him an emerging leader. De Los Santos plans to use everything he gains at Oxford to help other people. “I’m the child of Mexican immigrants, an anti-hunger advocate and a former teacher, and political organizer,” he said. “My degree choices are a way for me to respond from a sense of moral urgency to help marginalized people.”
De Los Santos – and the rest of the scholars – will embark on this next chapter in October 2017. The scholarships – worth about $68,000 a year – cover two to three years of school, and in some cases four years.