OXFORD - Arielle Hudson was selected as the University of Mississippi’s first African American female Rhodes Scholar, and the university’s 27th recipient overall, on Saturday.
Hudson, a senior secondary English education major, was announced as a recipient on Nov. 23. She grew up in Tunica and graduated from the Mississippi School of Math and Science in 2016 before attending Ole Miss.
As a Rhodes Scholar recipient, she will attend the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom beginning in October 2020. She plans to pursue dual master’s degrees in comparative social policy and comparative international education.
“It’s a great privilege and I’m excited to be in Oxford, to be submerged in a culture of diverse people and diverse curriculum and figure out some of the best solutions to bring back to Mississippi and the U.S.,” Hudson said.
The Rhodes Scholarships were established in 1902 to bring 32 high-achieving students from around the world to study at the University of Oxford each year. Besides “intellectual distinction,” the selection committee looks for college graduates with potential for effective service to the world.
“As part of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, Arielle is already one of the top academic students at the University of Mississippi,” UM education dean David Rock said in a statement. “Being selected as a Rhodes Scholar is simply a sensational accomplishment for any student. We are so proud of Arielle and her recognition.”
Hudson said her greatest achievement at Ole Miss has been helping to unanimously pass an Associated Student Body resolution to have the Confederate statue relocated from its current spot in the Lyceum Circle to the Confederate cemetery on campus. She is chair of ASB’s Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement Committee and was one of six students who authored the resolution.
She is also the current president of the Black Student Union, an ambassador for the Office of Admissions and the School of Education, a mentor for Mississippi Outreach to Scholastic Talent and served as a leader at the university’s Apex Leadership Summit over the summer.
She hopes the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will approve the university’s plan for relocation in December so the matter can move to the state Institutions of Higher Learning for consideration.
Hudson said the student body seems more connected now than it has been in the past and she’s seen more effort being put toward community building.
“I think my role in that is simply — for African American students, especially — continuing to foster a safe space and a welcoming environment … so that they know that they not only should be at the university, but they belong here and they deserve to graduate from the university,” Hudson said.
When she returns from the University of Oxford, Hudson said she hopes to go to law school and would love to attend Harvard. She wants to eventually work for the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., as an education policy maker.
“Specifically, I want to focus on public education in Mississippi — so creating viable solutions to really reckon with the inequities that exist as far as equality in equity in Mississippi when it comes to funding, resources for students and professional development for teachers,” Hudson said.