Mark Dlugash, a Larchmont resident who attended Murray Avenue School, is one of 32 US citizens named as Rhodes Scholars for 2010. The scholarship will pay for two years of study at Oxford University, where Mr. Dlugash intends to pursue masters degrees in both forced migration and global governance.
When Mr. Dlugash was an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, he worked with a Philadelphia nonprofit organization and developed a passion for helping refugees. In the future, he hopes to work in the area of international human rights law. His other volunteer work included tutoring disadvantaged children, helping provide hospice support for the elderly in Philadelphia and helping low income city residents file tax returns.
He also co-founded Global Health Forum, an organization that raises awareness about malaria in Uganda, and he raised money to purchase mosquito netting for Ugandan families. During his college years, Mr. Dlugash spent time in Uganda, where he interviewed mothers of children who were suffering from malaria, and lived with a tribal family for 3 weeks.
“I wanted to take stories back, since not everyone can go to Africa,” said Mr. Dlugash. “Once you see it first hand, it radicalizes you a little bit and makes you feel like you need to fix this.”
He further explained that he focused on malaria because “it would be easy to eradicate with the resources we have now… We have the money and the knowledge. Right now what is happening is a failure in dissemination.”
When asked how his life in Larchmont influenced him, Mr. Dlugash remarked, “My fourth grade teacher, Jeri Waldman always believed in me. She put a lot of time and effort into working with me.” He added, “I also had a great piano teacher, Hyla Melnick, with whom I took piano lessons from the age of seven until the end of high school. Working with her really taught me discipline.”
After graduation in 2008 from Swarthmore, where he majored in psychology and education, Mr. Dlugash worked with Americans for Informed Democracy in Washington, D.C. He is currently living in Larchmont working for an online educational company and doing SAT tutoring.
“Mark devoted his undergraduate years and now his post graduate life, to applying what he learned in the classroom to improving the lives of others,” said Swarthmore College president, Rebecca Chopp, quoted in the Swarthmore News. “His commitment to raising awareness about global issues such as malaria and forced migration define this young man’s drive and passion and we are so very proud of his achievements. He is destined to be a leader in his field, and in the global community,” Ms. Chopp concluded.
Undergoing the Rhodes Process
The Rhodes Scholarship was established in 1902 after the death of Cecil Rhodes, who hoped that his plan of bringing students to study at Oxford University would aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace.
To become a Rhodes Scholar, applicants must:
- be endorsed by their college,
- supply eight letters of recommendation (four of which must be from professors who have taught them),
- write a 1,000 word personal statement giving the committee a sense of who they are and why study at Oxford University will mesh with their future plans,
- show a sustained commitment to serving others,
- and show leadership and “vigor,” which translates to athletic activity.
The applicants must be approved by their district Rhodes committee and survive a cocktail party and interview. During the party, eight interviewers circulate among the fourteen candidates talking to them on topics related to their applications. Finally, on the following day, each candidate is individually interviewed by the committee of eight. The questions may be related to the candidate’s field or pose philosophical dilemmas. Questions often are on subjects unfamiliar to the candidates.
At the end of the day, all the candidates wait together while the committee deliberates. In Mr. Dlugash’s case, the wait was an unusually short two hours. The chairman of the committee then entered and asked all fourteen candidates to rise while he named the two chosen as Rhodes Scholars. Mark Dlugash was one of those standing at the end.