Englewood native put aside doubts to win Rhodes Scholarship
BY MARY MITCHELL
November 19, 2012
Rhiana Gunn-Wright and her mother, Karen R. Gunn, at their home after Rhiana was chosen for the latest class of American Rhodes scholars on November 19, 2012 in Oak Lawn, Illinois. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
When Rhiana Gunn-Wright walked into the Chicago History Museum as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, she was a bundle of nerves.
Despite her stellar educational background (she graduated magna cum laude from Yale, and was at the top of her class at the Illinois Math and Science Academy), there was a moment when she questioned her qualifications.
"I had serious doubts about even applying because I didn't see people who reflected my experience, the places I had come from, the things that I am interested in pursuing," said Gunn-Wright, who grew up in Englewood.
"My mom wasn't a lawyer or a doctor. My parents aren't professional. My great-grandmother was a laundress in Mississippi. I actually struggled to apply because I was like, people like me don't win awards like this," she said.
But on Sunday, a girl from the 'hood, whose mother never had to "chase" after her to do schoolwork, was among the 32 Americans chosen to become Rhodes Scholars. She will study at Oxford University in England.
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