UO student to interview as Rhodes Scholarship finalist

An interview this week could shape the next two years of Mika Weinstein’s academic career and change her life forever. On Friday, Nov. 22, she will interview for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship in Seattle.

If named a Rhodes Scholar, Weinstein plans to complete two, one-year master’s degrees in comparative social policy and global health sciences. She also hopes to work with The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food research collaborative.

Coming to the University of Oregon from San Anselmo, Calif., Weinstein is a Robert D. Clark Honors College student majoring in planning, public policy and management with a minor in biology. The senior credits the positive experience she had during a Duck Days event with her decision to attend the university — specifically, sitting down with Rhonda Smith, internship director in the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management.

“My dad, who was visiting with me, said you are not going to get this type of personal attention at another big research university," she said.

Working with Smith through the years and the mentorship and opportunities created by geography associate professor Shaul Cohen, along with meeting Robert Liberty, a UO alumnus and 1975 Rhodes scholar who previously served as the executive director of the university’s Sustainable Cities Initiative, Weinstein learned more about the Rhodes Scholarship and was encouraged to apply. But, it was a trip to Oxford that really sold her on the idea.

“What solidified my interest in the Rhodes Scholarship was traveling to Oxford last spring break as a Stern Fellow and being on the campus,” said Weinstein. “Seeing what an Oxford education is definitely made me want to apply.”

Weinstein’s mother works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and she thinks it was through her mother’s work that she developed the strong desire to help people. Weinstein has focused her efforts on sustainable agricultural practices.

“I’m really interested in food and agricultural policy,” said Weinstein. “On the ambitious side, I would love to work with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. They do some really awesome projects internationally, with some local and national organizations involved in that work, too.”

The oldest international fellowship, the Rhodes Scholarship brings outstanding students from around the world to the University of Oxford for two years of study. First awarded to Americans in 1904, 32 students from the United States are selected each year as Rhodes Scholars.

The University of Oregon has produced 19 Rhodes Scholars, including Andrew Shipley in 2007.

— Melissa Foley