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Tibetan Wins Rhodes Scholarship

November 23, 2011

Tenzin Seldon, a Tibetan student attending Stanford University, has become the first Tibetan-American to win the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, an honor that she adds to being the first Tibetan to win a Truman Scholarship, awarded to her earlier this year.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world, and previous recipients include former President Bill Clinton and the current US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead. Tenzin's passion, as noted on her official Rhodes Scholar bio, is to use her life "to bring justice, freedom and equality to the Tibetan people."

"This scholarship is a product of the unconditional love, faith, and support I received from my mentors, friends, and family members," Tenzin said of the Rhodes Scholarship. "It serves as a reminder of how far Tibetans in the United States have progressed in just one generation. I will leverage this amazing opportunity to create a significant impact for the cause of Tibet and human rights around the globe."

Tenzin, in addition to being an outstanding student and leader at Stanford, is an experienced activist for social justice in Tibet. Last year, she organized a dialog between His Holiness and mainland Chinese students and scholars during his visit to Stanford. She previously served as a regional coordinator for Students for a Free Tibet and on the executive team of SF Team Tibet, a collaborative group of Tibet organizations that spearheaded the major US protests during the 2008 Olympic torch run. More recently, she has a prominent roles, both onscreen and as a producer, in an upcoming documentary on Tibet — State of Control — that is the first such documentary slated for a wide theatrical release.

At Stanford, Tenzin is a Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity major and a Feminist Studies minor. She is also a leader on campus, serving as a student adviser on boards that include programs for human rights, first generation/low-income students and undergraduate education. She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Stanford Daily, the campus newspaper, and has previously worked on raising awareness about tolerance as ASSU Diversity Chair. Tenzin is now coordinating  President Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Challenge as a student leader. Her honors thesis will focus on the generational differences in refugee communities in India. With the Rhodes Scholarship, Tenzin plans to do the M.Sc. in refugee and forced migration studies and the M.Sc. in modern Chinese studies at Oxford.

Tenzin is the daughter of Ngodup Tsering, of Albany, California, a former member of the Tibetan Parliament and former president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California. "I'm so happy," he said, "not only for my daughter, but because this is a great opportunity to raise awareness about Tibet, and for her to use the knowledge and skills she will gain at Oxford in order to champion the cause of Tibet. I'm happy that she could make the best of the opportunities she has been given to make the Tibetan community proud."

The Rhodes Trust, a British charity established to honor the will and bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes, provides full financial support for Rhodes Scholars to pursue a degree or degrees at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

2012 Rhodes Scholar Press Releases and Website

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