Harvard. Amherst. Southern Connecticut State University. US Naval Academy. MIT. Yale. Penn. Lafayette College. Stanford. UMBC. University of Georgia. Wake Forest. Columbia. Duke. US Military Academy. UNC. Ohio State. University of Michigan. Johns Hopkins. US Air Force Academy. South Dakota State University. University of Virginia. UC Santa Cruz. These are the colleges that this year produced winners of arguably the most competitive scholarship in the world: Rhodes Scholars.

Rhodes Scholars are selected through a multi-step process. Applicants must be endorsed by their college or university, then regional Committees of Selection choose the strongest applicants in their region for interviews, which this year were of course conducted virtually. This past weekend, 238 applicants representing 86 colleges and universities were considered in the final selection process. Over the course of the entire application process, more than 2,300 applicants are winnowed down to 32 winners, two from each district. The Rhodes Trust pays all university expenses plus a living stipend for study at Oxford, typically for two to four years depending on the field of study. The average annual award is $70,000.

Rhodes Scholars are traditionally announced on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. My annual tradition is to use that press release to remind you that Ivy League credentials are not required to compete at the highest levels. There are many, many colleges and universities across the country that do an excellent job of preparing students for lifelong success.