Crocker chosen as Rhodes Scholar

by Katie Silberman | 11/21/05 6:00am

Alison Crocker '06 was selected as a 2006 Rhodes Scholar, beating out 903 other U.S. applicants, the Rhodes Trust announced this weekend. Crocker is the 39th Dartmouth scholar since the program's inception a century ago.

Crocker, a double major in math and physics, plans to complete a doctorate in astrophysics at Oxford University and later become an astrophysicist. A world-class cross-country skier, Crocker was a 2005 NCAA All-American in cross-country skiing, and she is currently in Montana training for the 2006 Winter Olympics.

At Dartmouth, Crocker has won numerous awards for being an outstanding student-athlete, as well as for her grade-point average and her accomplishments in physics. A mentor in the Women in Science Project, a presidential scholar and a member of Cabin and Trail, Crocker has also competed on the U.S. junior national rowing team.

Last summer, Crocker completed an engineering internship at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, developing a proof-of-concept ice detection system for aircraft.

"She is amazing at life," Vicki Allen '06, one of Crocker's good friends, said.

After an informal interview on Friday and a formal interview on Saturday, Crocker was informed of her selection to the program. Kristin O'Rourke, the College's scholarship adviser, helped Crocker through the process since the beginning of the year, creating numerous mock interviews and collecting advice from previous Dartmouth Rhodes scholars throughout the final interview process.

O'Rourke expressed gratification with Crocker's achievement.

"All of the applicants this year worked very hard during a long and arduous process," O'Rourke said. "Fortunately for Alison, it has all paid off. She's very deserving of this honor. We also worked very hard to help her along, but in the end it all depends on the student."

Crocker will join 85 scholars, including 32 Americans, from 13 countries around the world next October for a two-year study at Oxford. The Rhodes scholarships, created by Cecil John Rhodes in 1902, are awarded annually to those students who embody "excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead," according to the Rhodes Trust.

The prestigious scholarship is the oldest of any international studies grants available to American students. Scholars are chosen in pairs of two from 16 districts across the United States. Students can apply from their home states or the states where their colleges are located. Crocker, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., applied from New Hampshire in District I.

"There are so many smart schools in the Northeast," O'Rourke said. "The competition is incredibly fierce."

Another Dartmouth alumnus, Kabir Sehgal '05, was selected as a Rhodes finalist but ultimately did not become a scholar. Sehgal is currently studying for a master's in science in new media, information and society at the London School of Economics, for which he received a Reynolds scholarship from the College last spring.

An accomplished jazz musician and music major, Sehgal led the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble as an undergraduate and hoped to study musicology at Oxford. He was also a semi-finalist last year.

O'Rourke commended Sehgal for making it to the final rounds of consideration.

"To be a finalist is a big deal," O'Rourke said. "The scholarships are tremendously competitive."

Daniel Preysman '04 is currently a finalist for a George J. Mitchell Scholarship. The scholarships, whose winners will be notified in early January, send 20 students to study for one year in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Preysman, a philosophy major with concentrations in government and French, was editor of the Dartmouth Journal of Law, president of Dartmouth Mock Trial and a War and Peace Fellow at the Dickey Center. Preysman plans to pursue a career in investigative journalism in areas of conflict around the globe.