Alex Coccia, a 2014 University of Notre Dame graduate, and Jacob Burnett, Wabash College class of 2015, have been selected to the American Rhodes Scholar Class of 2015.
Burnett, Mishawaka, Ind., and Coccia, a Columbus, Ohio native, learned yesterday they were among 32 students in the nation to be named a Rhodes Scholar. The 32 winners are selected from a pool of 877 candidates.
“It feels amazing,” Burnett said after just learning of the honor. “It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been speechless.”
“It’s an incredible honor, and I’m humbled, to be named a Rhodes Scholar representing the University of Notre Dame,” said Coccia. “I am deeply grateful for the support and invaluable mentorship I’ve received over my time at Notre Dame – from faculty, staff and my fellow students. The mission of the Rhodes Trust is reflected in our own, to engage critically so that learning becomes service to justice. The academic experience in Africana Studies and Peace Studies taught me to apply those shared values to ‘fighting the world’s fight.’ I look forward to continuing this journey at Oxford.”
“Jacob is a wonderful Wabash story,” said Wabash President Gregory Hess. “He is a passionate, articulate, and thoughtful young man, who lives out our mission to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely. The recognition he receives through this award speaks to all that we do to provide a liberal arts arts education for our young men.”
“Alex did what we hope all students will do as undergraduates at Notre Dame. He took his learning experience beyond the classroom and took full advantage of all the resources on campus to discern his path, cultivate his gifts, and serve as a transformational leader,” said Dr. Deb Rotman, Paul and Maureen Stefanick Faculty Director in the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement.
Burnett has been active at Wabash through Moot Court, pre-law, and The Bachelor. He has a widely defined goal to pursue the law to help others.
Coccia majored in Africana Studies and Peace Studies at Notre Dame. Currently a Truman-Albright Fellow in the US Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, he served as student body president, running on a platform focused on promoting the passions and interests of all students, including those who feel marginalized. A member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, he worked to serve peers and improve the campus climate on a variety of issues, most notably to increase awareness for students who identify as LGBTQ minority students, students who are undocumented citizens and students impacted by sexual violence.
The Rhodes Trust provides funds to cover the Scholars’ education costs. Burnett will pursue a master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice and will work toward his master’s degree at Oxford in the fall of 2015. Coccia plans to study comparative social policy at Oxford.
Allison Wettstein, a member of the Notre Dame Class of 2013, was also a Rhodes Scholar finalist this year. Burnett is the first Wabash Rhodes Scholar since Jeremy Robinson, class of ’04, won in 2005.