Midshipman From Pasadena Wins Prestigious International Scholarship


The United States Naval Academy on Monday announced that Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Abigail Ward, 21, earned a Rhodes Scholarship. The Naval Academy is pictured above on a different day. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

ANNAPOLIS, MD - A midshipman from Pasadena just won a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the world's most prestigious academic awards.

The U.S. Naval Academy on Monday announced that Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Abigail Ward, 21, earned the scholarship. 

First awarded in 1902, the Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest international scholarship program. Winners are funded for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford in England for up to three years.

Ward is one of 32 American winners this year. She is the 56th midshipman to earn a Rhodes Scholarship.

"The scholarships are for young leaders of outstanding intellect and character who are motivated to engage with global challenges and are committed to the service of others," the Naval Academy said in a press release. "They show promise of becoming value-driven, principled leaders for the world’s future, wherever their careers might take them and in any field. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees and transportation to and from England."

About 1% of applicants win a scholarship.

More than 2,500 students started the application process this year. Of those, 862 were endorsed by 249 different colleges and universities. Selection committees from each of the 16 U.S. districts then invited the strongest applicants to interview. A total of 240 applicants from 90 colleges and universities made it to the final stages, but less than three dozen earned the scholarship.

Ward is a computer science major and a Chinese minor.

She wants to combat foreign influence campaigns with sound cyber policy. She's focused on analyzing Beijing-backed disinformation campaigns using Natural Language Processing. 

Ward previously earned the Stamps Scholarship which let her work with The Asia Foundation Malaysia this past summer. She studied the effects of technology policy on small and micro-entrepreneurs. 

Ward spent this spring in an intensive Mandarin program in Taipei, Taiwan at National Taiwan University. 

She is also the Chinese Culture Club president, a member of the Navy Women's Rugby team and a Midshipman Group Studies Program leader.

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