One student achieved something no other Eastern Kentucky University student has done before. Nick Koenig, executive vice president of the Student Government Association was announced as a finalist for one of the most competitive scholarships in the country, the Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University.
Koenig is a senior biology major and part of the EKU Honors program.The Rhodes Scholarship provides a full ride to the University of Oxford in England. Koenig was a finalist in the region he applied for.
“I applied for the Rhodes scholarship and it’s a full ride to Oxford University, and the way it works is thirty two students from the United States are chosen for it. There are sixteen regions in the US and the region I applied to specifically was for Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia,” Koenig said.
In each region, there were 16 finalists of which two were chosen to receive the scholarship. Although Koenig did not win the scholarship he is thankful for the experience and believed the two students who received the scholarship were very deserving of it.
“Sixteen students competed for two spots in the district and we had interviews and we zoomed and I got to know all of them which was super cool. So then we had all of our interviews and then the selection committee deliberated for about two hours and then they said the two peoples names and then that was it. So I didn’t receive it which is perfectly fine. I got to know the two students who were chosen,” Koenig said.
In the end, there are 32 scholars that receive the scholarship. That is the final cut out of the first 256 that are chosen to compete for it.
“So my major now is biology and at Oxford I was applying for a biodiversity masters degree. I'm juggling two universities right now. I'd say Oxford and Cambridge are my top two,” Koenig said.
Koenig really put all his effort to show the work he had done rather than try to fill in the checklist for qualifications.
“Once you got to the interview round that’s what they wanted to see and hear about you. I think using my experiences from EKU and trying to show what I’ve done rather than just fill the boxes was what I tried to do,” Koenig said.
Koenig was also unaware before he had applied that he was the first finalist from EKU to be considered for the scholarship.
“I thought it was so cool. I talked to a student who had applied to it recently but she graduated as well as Dr. Coleman in the honors program and they told me that I was the first finalist at EKU which was really exciting. I didn’t know that when I originally applied,” Koenig said.
The Rhodes Scholar selection committee receives hundreds of applicants annually. Applicants are judged on academic achievement, integrity, leadership ability, inclusivity and the energy to use their talents.
“I’m really hoping that after I graduate I hear about another EKU student getting it. That would just make my heart so happy,” Koenig said.