US Rhodes scholars for 2022 include Detroit military cadet, UM student

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A U.S. Military Academy cadet from Detroit and a University of Michigan student are among 32 Americans to be named 2022 Rhodes scholars and earn scholarships to the University of Oxford in Oxford, England.

Cadet Hannah Blakey of Detroit is a Persian and French major with an interest in marginalized and at-risk communities. Blakey said she would like to study the intersection of violent conflict and forced migration in the Middle East and Central Asia to better understand what measures can be taken to minimize and prevent human trafficking.

Blakey has conducted several interviews and conversations with Persian-speaking refugees to better understand the cultural and economic factors that affect forced migration and refugees in Persian-speaking regions, according to a statement from the military. In the summer of 2019, she lived with an Uzbekistan host family and studied Persian at the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages.

West Point Cadet Hannah Blakey, a native of Detroit, has been named one of 32 Rhodes scholars for 2022.

Blakey holds multiple records on West Point’s Division I track team and she serves as the brigade executive officer.

"This scholarship is an opportunity to continue my education in an environment that will challenge me to begin making the improvements I want to see in the world," Blakey said in a statement. "I am always reminded that iron sharpens iron and being a recipient of the Rhodes scholarship is an embodiment of that."

She is among four American women from West Point named Rhodes scholars for 2022, a first for the academy, officials said.

Rachael Merritt, a UM senior double majoring in Russian and international studies, is from Grand Rapids and is the 30th Rhodes scholar from UM and the university's third in four years. 

At Oxford, Merritt plans to enroll in the master's program in Russian and Eastern European studies, followed by a master's in social science of the internet. Russia and Eastern Europe, Merritt says, need greater internet regulation and monitoring to promote openness, transparency and inclusivity of voices.

University of Michigan student Rachael Merritt has been named a 2022 Rhodes scholar, one of 32 Americans chosen to study at the University of Oxford.

"I believe that it is more necessary than ever to think critically about the role of the internet in authoritarian regimes and to reimagine the international community's engagement with the internet to establish democratic norms," Merritt said in a statement.

Henry Dyson, director of the UM Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, said he is proud of all Rhodes finalists.

"Rachael Merritt's spirit of adventure, teaching English in Kyrgyzstan, studying in Moscow, her work with the Flying Subtitles Collective and with Russian journalists and activists, embodies the contemporary Rhodes Scholarship's commitment to 'fighting the world's fight,'" Dyson said in a statement.

The Rhodes scholarships are the oldest international fellowship awards in the world. Students were selected from a pool of 826 applicants nominated by their 247 colleges and universities, officials said. The class includes 22 women, the most ever elected in a year, and has winners from 24 colleges and universities. They will enter Oxford in October 2022.

Rhodes scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford and may allow funding in some instances for four years.