Senior of the University of Michigan named Rhodes Scholar 2022
ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan student Rachael Merritt was selected as a 2022 Rhodes Scholar.
Merritt is a senior at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and has dual degrees in International Studies and Russian. The Grand Rapids native is one of 32 Americans to receive the prestigious University of Oxford scholarship.
Merritt is the 30th University of Michigan student selected for the awards since its inception in 1902. She plans to enroll in Oxford’s Masters program in Russian and Eastern European Studies. After graduation, she would like to do her Masters in Internet Social Sciences.
“These programs will allow me to deepen my understanding of the political and economic contexts in which civil society and independent media actors operate in REES regions,” Merritt said in a statement. “You will provide me with the framework and the empirical tools to creatively stand up for strengthening democracy and freedom of expression in these regions through the open Internet.
“I look forward to working with NGOs based in this thematic and regional interface, including Internet Without Borders and the Internet Society. I would also like to work with international bodies to codify the rights to a free and inclusive Internet in internationally recognized contexts. “
This was the second year in a row that Rhodes Scholars were virtually elected due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 class was selected from a pool of 826 applicants and includes a record number of women. Of the 32 scholarship holders, 22 are women.
The scholarships cover all study costs for two or three years at Oxford and in some cases can fund up to four years of study. The group will begin studying in Oxford in October 2022.
Four UM students were finalists for the 2022 Rhodes Scholarship.
“I’m so proud of all four of our Rhodes finalists,” said Henry Dyson, director of the UM Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. “Rachael Merritt’s spirit of adventure, English lessons in Kyrgyzstan, her studies in Moscow, her work with the Flying Subtitles Collective and with Russian journalists and activists embodies the commitment of the contemporary Rhodes Scholarship to fight the war of the world.”
Merritt said her interest in bringing together Internet and Russian and Eastern European studies stems from the need for greater Internet regulation and transparency in Eastern Europe.
“I believe that it is more necessary than ever to reflect critically on the role of the Internet in authoritarian regimes and to reconsider the engagement of the international community with the Internet in order to establish democratic norms,” she said in a statement. “I’m studying at the intersection of REES and internet studies as a Rhodes Scholar while receiving mentoring from professionals who share a similar vision of accountable digital democracy, and will have the opportunity to help shape that change.”
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