Tahrington (Tahri) Phillips ’23, a cognitive and behavioral science and English double major, is Washington and Lee University’s 18th Rhodes Scholar.
The Rhodes Trust announced Nov. 13 that Phillips, 20, of Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, was one of 32 scholars chosen this year to begin graduate studies next fall at the University of Oxford in England. The scholarship, which averages approximately $75,000 per year, and up to as much as $250,000, fully funds two to four years of study at Oxford.
The Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902. They are awarded on the basis of academic excellence, personal energy, ambition for impact, ability to work with others, a commitment to making a strong difference for good in the world, concern for the welfare of others, consciousness of inequities and potential for leadership.
“When I found out that I had been selected, I was absolutely speechless,” said Phillips. “I told my parents that it felt like being told that the entire trajectory of my life had shifted in an instant. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am ecstatic.”
At Oxford, Phillips plans to pursue a master’s degree in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation. She will build on her undergraduate studies by exploring potential intervention strategies for at-risk and underrepresented youth inside and outside the classroom and how to best create more equitable learning environments for them.
Phillips was one of only two juniors to be initiated in spring 2022 into both Phi Beta Kappa, the national academic honor society, and Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. She is the Head Community Assistant for Woods Creek and Theme Houses for the Office of Residence Life, a leader with the Perry Minority Athlete Coalition, the treasurer and public relations chair for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and a student representative on W&L’s Student Affairs Committee.
She is also a captain on the varsity women’s basketball team, the co-president of W&L’s all-female acapella group, a research assistant in a cognitive and behavioral science research lab and a three-time student co-facilitator for W&L’s recently launched First-Year Experience course, which is designed to introduce first-year students to college life.
Julie Woodzicka, professor of cognitive and behavioral science at W&L, has worked with Phillips throughout her time at the university.
“Tahri possesses intelligence, independence, initiative, perseverance and compassion,” said Woodzicka. “She is a fabulous student, and what sets her apart from other extremely strong students is her quest to dig into hard problems and figure them out. She is not in it for the grade—she’s in it for the learning.”
“Tahri is an extraordinary student-leader and an exceptional talent,” said Washington and Lee President William C. Dudley. “The graduate study she plans to undertake at Oxford and the partnerships she will cultivate have the potential to shape conversations about educational equity for years to come.”