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NCAA student-athletes named 2020 Rhodes Scholars

Spohn ran and played soccer for Harvard; Woltz is on MIT track and cross country teams

One former and one current NCAA student-athlete are among 32 students elected to the American Rhodes Scholar Class of 2020, receiving what is considered the most elite award and scholarship for international study.

Rhodes Scholars receive a fully funded opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in England for at least two years. Each scholarship is valued at approximately $70,000 per year.

The two student-athletes receiving the award are:

  • Lauren D. Spohn, a senior at Harvard, concentrating in English with a deep interest in intellectual history. She is a captain of the women’s triathlon club team and formerly competed on the women’s soccer, track and field, and cross country varsity teams. Spohn also founded a mentorship program for freshmen in the humanities; serves as editor-in-chief for the Harvard Ichthus, a student journal of Christian thought and expression; and is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper. She came to Harvard after being home-schooled in an Air Force family and has won many top prizes in English. As a student-athlete, Spohn holds a perfect academic record across literature, history, philosophy, government, languages and economics. She plans to pursue master’s degrees in intellectual history and 19th century literature at Oxford.
  • Vilhelm “Billy” L. Andersen Woltz, a senior at MIT, double majoring in physics and electrical engineering and computer science. He is the captain of the varsity men’s track and field and cross country teams at MIT and was named the 2018 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Year. Woltz is also currently a research assistant in the engineering quantum systems group in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, where his research focuses on building larger quantum processors. An advocate for expanding access to science and technology education, Woltz founded a summer camp at his former high school to teach computer science skills to underserved Appalachian and refugee students in southeastern Ohio. He plans to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford.

Rhodes Scholars are selected based on criteria established by the will of 19th century businessman Cecil Rhodes: outstanding scholarly achievements, character, commitment to others and to the common good, and potential for leadership in their chosen career field.

A total of 100 Rhodes Scholars will receive the award this year, including 32 from the United States. The American Rhodes Scholars — whose selections were announced Saturday from a pool of 963 candidates endorsed by their colleges and universities — will go to Oxford in September.

For more information about the 2020 Rhodes Scholars from the United States, click here.