Benedictine College Senior Named Rhodes Scholar Finalist

Published: Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hannah VossBenedictine College is proud to announce that Hannah Voss, a senior from San Antonio, is a finalist in the 2018 Rhodes Scholarship competition. The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship award in the world, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.

“I am incredibly excited to have been named a Rhodes Finalist,” said Voss. "I've wanted to apply for the Rhodes since I was a senior in high school, but always thought it was a complete long-shot for me, so to have been selected for interviews is quite literally a dream come true.”

The Rhodes Trust, established to honor the will and bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes, in partnership with the Second Century Founder, John McCall MacBain and other generous benefactors, provides full financial support for Rhodes Scholars to pursue degrees at the University of Oxford. Each year, 32 young Americans are selected as Rhodes Scholars for their outstanding scholarly achievements, character, commitment to the common good and their potential for leadership.

Voss’ selection as a Rhodes finalist is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation.

“It’s been a marathon, but we are absolutely delighted with the outcome,” said Claudia Crifasi, Benedictine’s Post Graduate Advisor in the Student Success Center. “Hannah’s academic work is stellar; she has also sought out great off-campus opportunities for scholarship. However, the most outstanding element for me is the unanimous and comprehensive support Hannah has received from the Benedictine English faculty. Being selected as a finalist is an extraordinary achievement for Hannah, but is also a moment to savor for all Hannah’s professors, especially the English and Honors program faculty.”

Voss is a senior English major and a member of the Honors Program at Benedictine College. Her primary research is on women modernist poets, currently focusing on H.D. and Amy Lowell. Her research on physical space and identity in relation to Willa Cather’s modernism is forthcoming in The Sigma Tau Delta Review in 2018. Hannah has worked as a research assistant under a number of professors and held an internship at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. in 2016.

At Benedictine, she served in the Student Government Association (SGA) from 2014-2016, where she worked on a recycling program for the campus. She later left SGA in order to found a chapter of the Catholic Relief Services University program, which aims to educate and organize student advocacy about global humanitarian crises. Off campus, she teaches weekly ESL lessons to refugees in Kansas City. After graduation, Hannah plans to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature, focusing on the intersection on place and identity, and the role of poetry in the construction of nationality.

“If I were to win the scholarship, it would fully fund me to attend the University of Oxford for graduate school—which has been a long-standing goal of mine—as well as give me the significant honor of being a Rhodes Scholar,” Voss said. “Regardless, I feel so blessed already; it is already so rewarding in itself to have engaged with this process and become a Finalist.”

The final phase of Rhodes competition will take place on November 17 and 18. Voss will join 14 other District XII finalists in Chicago for interviews with the Rhodes Selection Committee.

“This is an incredibly competitive process—Hannah will be up against some of the highest achieving students in the country,” Crifasi said.

Voss is Benedictine’s most recent representative on the national academic stage. She joins a growing group of Benedictine students whose academic excellence has achieved national recognition. In 2017, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Graduate Research Fellowships to two Benedictine College students. Laura Tibbs and Bienvenido “Ben” Cortes, both senior Biology majors and Honors Program members, were awarded the fellowships after competing against more than 13,000 others.

Tibbs is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the Interdepartmental Genetics and Genomics program, at Iowa State University. She plans to become a crop geneticist. Cortes is also attending Iowa State University, working on his Ph.D. in Microbiology. He hopes to give back to places like Benedictine.

“I would like to become a professor at a smaller, teaching focused college,” he said. “I want to educate future scientists and provide them with research experience to prepare them for their careers.”

Laura Romaine is another star of the Benedictine College English Department and a notable graduate of the Honors Program. In 2016, Romaine was Benedictine’s fist ever candidate for The George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program, a national, competitive scholarship sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance. Named to honor former U.S. Senator George Mitchell's pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process, the scholarship is designed to connect future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while fostering intellectual achievement, leadership, and a commitment to community and public service. Romaine achieved the rank of semi-finalist in the 2016 Mitchell competition. She is a great proponent of the benefits of competing for prestigious fellowships and scholarships, claiming, “the process really honed my skills. It was a big advantage for my graduate school applications.” She followed her passion for literature to the University of Michigan, where she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English language and literature.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.