The Oak Ridge college senior who was named a Rhodes Scholar this past weekend is one of only seven University of Tennessee students who have received the honor in more than a century, officials said Monday.
Lindsay E. Lee is a UT senior studying math and Spanish. She is the oldest daughter of Julie Lee and Joe Lee, a member of the Oak Ridge Building and Housing Code Appeals who frequently participates at Oak Ridge City Council meetings and once ran for a seat on Anderson County Commission.
UT said the Rhodes Scholarship, which has an average value of about $50,000 per year, is the most prestigious international award a student can earn. Lee was one of 32 American recipients chosen from 857 students endorsed by 327 colleges and universities across the country.
She is the seventh UT student to receive the honor in the Rhodes program’s 111-year history, UT said in a press release.
Lee will begin her all-expenses-paid studies at Oxford University in England next fall. She plans to study statistics for applications in public health.
“I am incredibly humbled to be in the same shoes as some of the most important movers and shakers around the world,” Lee said in the release. “It’s daunting to look back at all the Rhodes Scholars and see what they’ve accomplished and think that I could one day do what they did.”
Lee called the opportunity to earn a degree from Oxford “a rare and precious privilege.”
Lee is a Haslam Scholar—the university’s most prestigious scholarship. She also receives the Steve and Laura Morris Scholarship. She has studied abroad in Barcelona and Tokyo and conducted research at UT’s National Institute of Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, at Vanderbilt Medical Center and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“I’m planning on studying statistics at Oxford and to later apply that knowledge in public health,” Lee said. “Besides giving me a top-tier education, this experience is going to allow me to interact with some of the most impactful change makers of the future.”
Lee said her UT experience has prepared her well for this next phase of her academic endeavors.
“I foresee that becoming close with my fellow Rhodes Scholars will be just as important to my academic and personal development as interacting with my fellow Haslam Scholars has been here at UT,” she said.
Lee was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when she was three years old. She founded and serves as president of Campus Disability Advocates, an organization that provides a voice to students, faculty and staff with disabilities. She led the creation of UT’s Disability Week, which was held for the second time this fall.
UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said the campus is abuzz with excitement for its new Rhodes Scholar.
“We are incredibly proud of Lindsay and so happy to claim her as a Volunteer,” Cheek said in the release. “As a dedicated student and campus leader, she is most deserving of this prestigious award. We look forward to seeing the positive mark she is destined to make on our world.”
Lee is co-chair of the Academic Affairs Committee in the Student Government Association and president of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Sciences. She has been a columnist for The Daily Beacon and has served as a volunteer for a children’s hospital and for organizations serving the homeless.
Rhodes Scholarships pay all expenses for two or three years of study at Oxford and sometimes allow four years of funding.
Lee said she is proud to represent UT abroad next year. She noted that nine of the 32 Americans chosen attend public universities.
“I like to think that I am living proof of the value of a public education and that, with the proper support, students at the University of Tennessee can do absolutely anything students at a fancy private school can do,” Lee said.
She was also a 2013 finalist for the Truman Scholarship, another prestigious national scholarship.
UT’s other Rhodes Scholars are:
- Bernadotte Schmitt, 1905
- Matthew G. Smith, 1911
- Arthur Preston Whitaker, 1917
- William E. Derryberry, 1928
- Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, 1979
- Jennifer Santoro Stanley, 1995
For more information, visit rhodesscholar.org.