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Wilson named finalist for prestigious Rhodes Scholarship

Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2017-01-03 08:40:19 - General

Malika Wilson
Malika Wilson

Coe College senior Malika Wilson was recently named a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, which is generally considered the most prestigious academic award available to American college graduates. The Rhodes is the oldest and best known award for international study. Wilson was one of 230 applicants from 95 different colleges and universities across the country who reached the final stage of competition.

Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for up to four years of study at the University of Oxford in England. In Coe history, only three students or alumni have been Rhodes finalists, including Wilson. Paul Engle '31 in 1933 and Darryl Banks '72 in 1972 both received the award and went on to study at Oxford.

At Coe, Wilson is a neuroscience and biology major with a minor in chemistry. She is applying to medical school and would like to specialize in emergency medicine. Wilson is also passionate about improving accessibility for health care.

During her sophomore year, Wilson first learned about the Rhodes Scholarship. She was strongly encouraged to apply for the national fellowship award by Provost and Dean of the Faculty Paula O'Loughlin during a meeting last May.

As Wilson began the application process in June and wrote the first drafts of her essay, she and O'Loughlin stayed in communication throughout the summer. Wilson also received guidance from Coe English Professor and National Fellowship Advisor Amber Shaw. Describing it as a "erribly long but rewarding process," Wilson submitted the application in early October.

Wilson was then chosen as a Rhodes finalist, one of just 15 in her region. From the 16 Rhodes regions across the U.S., 32 students were named as Rhodes Scholars.

In Wilson's case, she and the other finalists from the central region of the country were interviewed by a seven-member panel in Salt Lake City. While there, she had the opportunity to interact with the other finalists, with approximately half of them graduating from Ivy League schools. According to Wilson, all of the Rhodes finalists had impressive backgrounds.

Wilson said the Rhodes interview gave her additional confidence in her abilities and the value of the Coe educational experience.

"People who graduate from Coe can be really, really competitive when applying for national fellowships," said Wilson. "I feel like we (at Coe) are more competitive than we make ourselves out to be."

As an additional benefit, Wilson says that applying and interviewing for the Rhodes has served to make her a better-prepared candidate for the medical school admission process.

"I've spent six months talking about what I want to do with my life, so that experience helped me rock my medical school interviews," said Wilson.

With the Rhodes process seemingly daunting at times, Wilson is now encouraging other Coe students to apply for national fellowships.

"You've already told yourself 'no' if you don't do it, so what do you have to lose?" said Wilson. "Even when I didn't win the Rhodes, it's an honor to have made it that far."

Although she initially expected to enroll at a large university, Wilson believes that Coe was the best place for her undergraduate studies. She is convinced Coe has prepared her well for success in medical school.

"While I've been able to take a lot of classes and learn a lot, I've also had the opportunity to do my own individualized learning, which made Coe the best place I could have gone for my undergraduate career," said Wilson.

Wilson has been an active member of Coe Student Senate and served as the president of the Coe student body. Among many other co-curricular activities at Coe, Wilson has served as president of the Coe Student Ambassadors, BSEO treasurer, a violinist for Coe orchestra, a Coehort mentor and a resident assistant. She was named outstanding sophomore for STRATA.

A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Malika is a graduate of East High School and she is the daughter of Catherine Wilson.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.