Hampton University Student and Alumna Named Finalists for Prestigious Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships

HAMPTON, Va. (November 22, 2019) – Hampton University student Ms. Jakari Harris and alumna Ms. José Thomas, have been selected as finalists for two of the world’s most prestigious scholarships. 

“Congratulations to these remarkable scholars. They truly exemplify the Hampton University Standard of Excellence,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.

Jakari Harris, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, with a 3.9 GPA, was invited to interview for a Marshall Scholarship in early November. She is expected to learn of the result later this month. If selected for this prize, she will spend 2-3 years studying in the United Kingdom, all expenses paid.

Alumna José Thomas, who was salutatorian of Hampton University’s class of 2019, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA, has been invited to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship, through the Commonwealth Caribbean District. Thomas, from the island of Dominica, will interview in Barbados the week of November 24th.

Harris is a member of the Hampton University Freddye T. Davy Honors College under the guidance of Director Dr. Rikesha Fry Brown, who also serves as the University Coordinator for Prestigious Scholarships. Of the two top scholarship finalists, Dr. Fry Brown has remarked: “Both of these young women are extremely talented and have worked very hard in both their academic lives, and their application processes. They represent the ‘Standard of Excellence’ expected of a Hamptonian, and we are very proud of each of them.”

If Thomas is named a Rhodes Scholar, she will actually become the first ever Rhodes Scholar from Hampton University. The Rhodes Scholarship provides 2-3 years of fully funded graduated study at the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England.

The Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships feature among the most sought-after scholarships in the world. Both prizes were established in the twentieth century, the Rhodes Scholarship early in the century, in 1903; and the Marshall mid-century, immediately following World War II. The Rhodes Scholarship is named for British colonial statesman Cecil John Rhodes, who provided the establishment of the iconoclastic Rhodes Scholarships through the largess of his Will. The Rhodes Scholarship recognizes academic excellence, moral character, “instincts to lead,” literary ability, demonstrated interest in one’s peers, and an inclination to “protect the weak.”

Well-known Rhodes Scholars include former U.S. President Bill Clinton; former Jamaican Prime Minister Norman Washington Manley; former U.S. Senator and NBA Basketball Player Bill Bradley; current presidential candidates Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg; and former Trinidadian Prime Minister Eric Williams.

The Marshall Scholarship is funded by the British Government and commemorates the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain, honoring in particular the aid which the United States provided post-war Britain and Europe through the Marshall Plan. 

Kendyl Crawley-Crawford, from Hampton University, was named a Marshall Scholar in 2012.  Jakari Harris is the third Hamptonian to interview for a Marshall Scholarship since Crawley-Crawford’s win.  Thomas, by contrast, is the sixth Hamptonian to be invited to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship in recent years, and the third to be invited to interview before the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee.