Scholars setting the standard at Hampton University

(Thomas (left) and Johnson (right) prepare for their next journey.) Brittany Bailey
(Thomas (left) and Johnson (right) prepare for their next journey.) Brittany Bailey

Averi Collins | Features Editor

Excitement has been buzzing throughout the Psychology Department at Hampton University because two of its students have been named finalists for prestigious scholarships. Tanesha Johnson, a senior psychology major from Yorktown, Virginia is a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, while Ivana Thomas, a senior psychology major from Durham, North Carolina as a semi-finalist for the Schwarzman Scholarship.

Both have been preparing since the beginning of the school year, if not earlier, for these opportunities.

“Tanesha and Ivana represent the best of the Psychology Department,” said psychology professor Adam Johnson. “They are sweet, outgoing and responsible. I am not surprised at all that they made it this far in the scholarship process.”

Johnson and Thomas were coached through the process by Dr. Sabin Duncan the Director of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College. Both have total support from the university and their parents.

Veronica Johnson, Tanesha’s mother stated, “We are just elated that Tanesha is a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes scholarship. She is such a determined young lady and her possibilities are limitless.”

 Johnson’s mother continued on to say, “As parents you always want the best for your children so you do the best you can and pray that some of the lessons carry them forward in life. Tanesha has gone beyond the goals that she has set for herself and this is just another step in her journey.”

Similarly, the chair of the psychology department, Leona Johnson, gave words of praise to the finalists on behalf of the entire department.

 “The department extends congrats to our psychology majors, Tanesha and Ivana for their phenomenal accomplishments,” said Leona Johnson.

Thomas and Johnson practiced for their interviews for an entire week with faculty on campus. The interviews for the scholarships will start on Thursday, November 19 for Thomas and Friday, November 20 for Johnson.

 Johnson will be traveling to Indiana to interview for the Rhodes Scholarship and Thomas will travel to New York to interview.

By the end of the weekend, both will know if they are winners for the scholarships. The scholarship finalists are also excited and surprised by their success in the scholarship world.

Although Thomas is elated that she is a semi-finalist for the Schwarzman Scholarship, she is not one to boast about her success. “I am humbled and beyond grateful for this opportunity. I believe the chance to pursue this degree on the other side of the world is in line with my life’s mission of expanding human understanding and empathy across seemingly ‘opposite groups.’”

There have been over 200 years worth of Rhodes Scholars and the scholarship is globally respected as a means to study abroad for higher education. Scholars who win the scholarships are awarded a two to three year, all expense paid graduate study at the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England.

Approximately 1,000 scholars in the United States receive a university endorsement for the Rhodes scholarship by their undergraduate institutions. Then 200 of the 1,000 are chosen to interview and finally 32 students from all over the U.S. are named Rhodes Scholarship Recipients and can study in England.   

This is the first year that the Schwarzman Scholarship is being awarded. If Thomas wins, she will not only be a part of the first group of winners for the scholarship, but she will also be the first winner from Hampton University. She will set the bar high for the ones to come after her.

The Shwarzman Scholarship winners will receive an all-expense paid graduate education in Beijing at Tsinghua University for one year. This university is one of China’s top institutions.

The scholarship selects only 100 students for this opportunity and within the year of study the students are completely immersed in Chinese culture. The classes are taught in English in different areas of study such as public policy, economics, business and International Studies.

As both individuals complete their journey for these prestigious scholarships, the university wishes Thomas and Johnson the best of luck.

Many faculty members that have come in contact with these two brilliant women speak highly of them and have the confidence that they will make it.

As Dr. Leona Johnson stated in regards to the girls accomplishments “The best is yet to come.”

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