Two Penn Seniors: Rhodes Scholars

caption:Christopher D'Urso  caption:Adnan Zikri Jaafar

Two University of Pennsylvania seniors have been awarded Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study at the University of Oxford. Christopher D’Urso of Colts Neck, New Jersey, has been awarded an American Rhodes and Adnan Zikri Jaafa, of Malaysia, has been awarded a Malaysian Rhodes.

“All of us at Penn are enormously proud of Chris and Zikri,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Our newest Rhodes scholars share a passion for community engagement, human rights and social justice. Their work embodies the finest attributes of Penn scholars who are working to make a profound difference in the world. Chris has focused on consumer protection and advocacy as the founder of Penn CASE, which is providing education and support to local consumers in our community. He also has been actively engaged on the Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community. Zikri’s undergraduate research has focused on social-impact bonds. He also has done volunteer work with refugees and has been an ambassador for Penn Giving What We Can. Chris and Zikri are extraordinarily talented, engaged and committed individuals who are deeply deserving of this preeminent recognition.”

Considered one of the most prestigious academic honors, the Rhodes is highly competitive. According to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, this year more than 2,500 American students sought endorsements nationwide. The 32 American Rhodes Scholars were then selected from 866 students endorsed by 299 colleges and universities nationwide.

Christopher D’Urso is pursuing his bachelor’s in international relations with a minor in Hispanic studies and also a master of public administration with a certificate in politics from Penn’s Fels Institute of Government. 

In 2015, he founded Penn CASE, or Penn Consumer Assistance, Support and Education, which has provided consumer advocacy to more than 1,500 people locally. He is also the co-chair of the University Honor Council, the editor-in-chief of the Sigma Iota Rho Journal of International Relations and a member of the President and Provost’s Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community. 

At Oxford, Mr. D’Urso plans to pursue a master’s in criminology and criminal justice, as well as global governance and diplomacy.

Adnan Zikri Jaafar is enrolled in the Huntsman Program in International Studies in Business offered through Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and Wharton School. He is majoring in finance, statistics and international studies, with a minor in mathematics, economics and philosophy. 

At Penn, he has served as a Fox Research and Service Fellow and a Wharton Research Scholar, and this summer he conducted research on zakat, the practice of alms-giving in the Islamic faith and on social-impact bonds to assess alternative approaches to improving the impact of zakat distribution in his home country. He volunteers for the PA Refugee Task Force in Philadelphia and Syrian refugee schools in Irbid, Jordan, and is an ambassador for Penn’s Giving What We Can.

At Oxford, Mr. Jaafar will pursue a master’s degree in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation, along with a master’s in financial economics.

Mr. D’Urso and Mr. Jaafar applied for the Rhodes Scholarship with assistance from Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. These two 2018 awards bring the number of Penn Rhodes Scholars to 26.


Prior Penn Rhodes Scholars

Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest international fellowships, have been awarded by the Rhodes Scholarship Trust since the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902. 

Adebisi (Debi) Ogunrinde, 2016 (Almanac December 8, 2015) Canadian Rhodes

Jennifer Hebert, 2016 (Almanac November 24, 2015)

Rutendo Chigora, 2015 (Almanac December 16, 2014) Zimbabwean Rhodes

Sarah-Jane Littleford, 2010 (Almanac December 22, 2009) Zimbabwean Rhodes

Abigail Seldin, 2009 (Almanac December 9, 2008)

Joyce Meng, 2008 (Almanac December 4, 2007)

Brett Shaheen, 2006 (Almanac December 6, 2005

David Ferreira, 2005 (Almanac February 3, 2004)

Lipika Goyal, 2001(Almanac December 12, 2000)

Theresa Simmonds, 1991

Joseph Torsella, 1986 

Stephanie Dangel, 1984

Patrick M. Norton, 1969

John Edgar Wideman, 1963

Frederic Ballard, 1939

Walter Chudson [Chudnowsky], 1934

William Ezra Lingelbach, Jr. , 1926

Milton Charles Nahm, 1926

Raymond Harvey Jack, 1923

John Valentine Lovitt, 1920

John Murdock Clarke, 1919

Morrison Comegys Boyd, 1914

Richard Schellens, 1908

Ellis Thomas Robins, 1904