DUNWOODY, Ga. — Dunwoody resident Ananya Agustin Malhotra, a 21 year-old senior at Princeton University, has been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the highest academic prizes in the world. 

Awarded annually, the Rhodes Scholarship provides 32 applicants across the United States the opportunity to pursue graduate study at the University of Oxford in England. Malhotra was one of two finalists selected from her district among a list of 14 candidates in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. 

Ananya Rhodes

Ananya Agustin Malhotra

A 2012 graduate of Marist School and of Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Johns Creek, Malhotra said she originally decided not to apply for the scholarship, believing she wasn’t qualified. She changed her mind after prompting from her fellowship adviser. 

“It seemed like a distant star reserved only for those much more brilliant, accomplished, and decorated than me, and I very nearly didn’t apply at all,” said Malhotra. “With those [adviser’s] words in mind, I applied, focusing more on the process than the result, thinking of it more as an exercise in rediscovering myself and what I want of myself for the next few years, rather than as an application for a particular prestigious opportunity.”

Since 1902, the Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. Scholars are chosen based upon their superior academic achievements, overall character, commitment to others, and potential for leadership in their desired career field.  Only 32 students in the United States are selected each year to receive the honor. This year, close to 3,000 students applied.

The application process is rigorous.

Each student must submit eight letters of recommendation, log a history of academic excellence, good character, scholarly achievements and leadership and express a commitment to “Stand Up for the World.”

“I do think this scholarship will really provide her with a venue to pursue her goal in life, which is to become a human rights lawyer,” said Maria Malhotra, Ananya’s mother. “Her career so far shows the direction that she wants to take, which is to ultimately be able to help make a better and more just world. The Rhodes Scholarship will make her be able to go one step closer to this goal, and my family couldn’t be prouder.”

At Oxford, Malhotra will pursue a two-year study in international relations to align with her passions for social change. At Princeton, she is majoring in international affairs with a minor in French. She has been an undergraduate fellow at the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination’s Project on Gender in the Global Community and Program on Religion, Diplomacy and International Relations. She is also the president of the SHARE (Sexual Harassment/Assault Awareness, Resources and Education) Peer Program and a co-founder of the Office of Religious Life’s UN Women Faith and Gender Justice Fellowship

In her pursuits to become a human rights lawyer, Malhotra garnered firsthand experience interning with international lawyers at the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest. She is looking forward to enriching her academic journey in receiving the best in post-graduate studies for her field.

“Situating my study of politics within the humanities’ unique strengths of reflexivity, self-awareness, and openness to critique and evolution has allowed me to ground my own politics in the constant pursuit of a future different from the one I see before me,” she said. “I believe that a humanistic embrace of critique and imagination opens up the space to work towards what does not yet exist and to shift what is able to become politically possible.” 

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