2 Pomona Students Named Rhodes Finalists

For Lena Connor PO ’13, the fact that she is both a Rhodes and Marshall scholarship finalist still has not sunk in.

“I keep thinking to myself, ‘This isn’t real,’” said Connor, an environmental analysis major who plans to study ecotheology in graduate school.

Connor and Annie Lyden PO ’13 are both Rhodes finalists from Pomona College this year. 

“It’s not easy to put this much work into an application at the beginning of your senior year,” said Jennifer Locke, Assistant Director of Fellowships and Career Advisement at Pomona. “It requires a lot of forethought, because the application was due at the end of week one.”

The Rhodes Scholarship, awarded to 32 U.S. students a year, provides for two years of study at the University of Oxford. The Marshall scholarship is awarded to up to 40 American students a year and covers two years of graduate study, which can lead to one or two degrees, at any college in the U.K.

Connor said that both the Marshall and the Rhodes scholarships would be a good fit for her because England would be conducive to studying ecotheology, which focuses on the relationships between religion and nature. 

“I think that even though England is more secular than the U.S., their theological pedagogy is stronger,” Connor said.

Connor had her interview for the Marshall scholarship Nov. 5 in Atlanta. She will find out if she won the Marshall scholarship in the next few days.

“Lena had very clear plans, especially for the Marshall, because it allows you to get a master’s in two areas and she wants to study environmental analysis and theology,” Locke said. “She made a very strong case about why people would want to invest in her education.”

Lydens, who is majoring in philosophy, politics and economics, is humbled by the nomination. 

“I’m trying to have faith in what I’ve done already,” Lydens said. “The panel already thinks that every student invited there is impressive. It’s just a matter of a combination of factors they’re looking for on that day, and I might not be what they’re looking for.”

Lydens is looking into studying immigration, migration and diaspora politics.

“I think it’s such an achievement to just be nominated, or to make it to the level that Lena and Annie have,” Locke said. “I think it’s an amazing experience just to apply. To be thinking about your history and future at this level is challenging but rewarding.”

The Rhodes scholarship interviews will take place Nov. 16 and 17 in Birmingham, Ala. Connor and Lydens will learn if they won the Rhodes scholarship on the same day of their interviews. 

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