Environmental Sciences and Policy major Claire Wang was named a Rhodes Scholar

Claire Wang

Joining the North Salt Lake, Utah, native in receiving the prestigious honor are fellow Duke University seniors Kushal Kadakia from Houston and Ariel Kantor from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They were among 32 scholarship recipients chosen from 880 applicants at 281 colleges and universities throughout the country. The trio are the 47th, 48th and 49th students in Duke’s history to receive Rhodes Scholarships, which provide for all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

“The Nicholas School is very proud to know that we have one of our own, Claire Wang, among the remarkable three Rhodes Scholars from Duke this year,” said Stanback Dean Toddi Steelman.

Wang was recently awarded two other prestigious scholarships -- the 2018 Harry S. Truman Scholarship and the 2018 Morris K and Stewart L. Udall Scholarship. She is the recipient of a four-year, merit-based Angier B. Duke Scholarship, a member of Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society, and this past spring was recognized with Duke's Outstanding Leadership in Sustainability - Student Award.

Wang, who is minoring in economics and Asian and Middle Eastern studies, has devoted her extracurricular time to environmental activism. Growing up in Utah, she lived just minutes away from oil refineries and experienced dangerous levels of air pollution during the winter, which made her realize early on the harms associated with fossil fuel dependence.

In high school, she began working with Utah Clean Energy, and assisted in the launch of a national campaign for the Sierra Club called “Seize the Grid,” which organized students to push for 100 percent renewable energy on college and university campuses. The Sierra Club later modeled a campaign for city governments on the successful student campaign, and so far 50 cities have committed themselves to 100 percent renewables in the near future.

In college, Wang focused her organizing efforts as president of the student organization Duke Climate Coalition to encourage Duke to lead on climate action. In her time at Duke, she had worked with students, faculty, administrators and community members to secure Duke’s public support of North Carolina renewable energy policy reform and to stop a natural gas plant proposed to be built on campus. 

With Rhodes funding, Wang plans to pursue two consecutive Master of Science degrees at Oxford in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance and in Global Governance and Diplomacy. She hopes to pursue a career in environmental advocacy, and expects her studies at Oxford to provide her with the tools to create lasting, effective change.

“I am overjoyed for the opportunity to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and continue working for climate action in the US and abroad,” Wang said. 

This marks the second time that Duke has had three Rhodes Scholars in one year.

“Outside of my office is a board that honors all of Duke’s Rhodes Scholars dating back to 1917, students who excelled at Duke and have gone on to pursue accomplished careers. I am so delighted to add three incredibly qualified Blue Devils to that distinguished list,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “From their engagement in the community to their exceptional success in the classroom, Ariel, Claire and Kushal have demonstrated at Duke a commitment to leadership, service and excellence. As they move on to Oxford, we are proud that they will be lifelong members of the Duke family.”

Learn more about the other Duke University recepients here.

A complete list of this year's recipients is online at http://www.rhodesscholar.org.