Black News and News Makers in History: Rachel Y. Mazyck

African American news - Black News and News Makers in History - recognizes Rachel Mazyck this week in Black historyRachel Y. Mazyck, African American Rhodes Scholar.

Rachel Mazyck, from Laurel, Maryland, is the daughter of Reggie and Donna Mazyck. She graduated at age 16 from the National Cathedral School in Washington. She came to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 1999 at age 16 on a Morehead Award, a full four-year scholarship modeled on the Rhodes. She finished her undergraduate degree in English in three years, graduating at age 19. She inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, made the dean's list all semesters at UNC.

While there, she was dedicated to extracurricular activities like co-founding Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Leadership Day, a program that brings more that 100 children to campus to participate in leadership-building activities.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina, she has worked with Teach for America, a national service corps of recent college graduates who teach in low-income communities. She spent two years with the organization teaching fourth graders in the Mississippi Delta region in Indianola. She interned for the Education Trust.

She graduated from Harvard University's master's program with a degree in education policy and management. Her honors thesis was on the impact of skin color on black women in the literature of the Harlem Renaissance.

On November 21, 2004, she was one of 32 Americans given scholarships to study abroad in 2005; she was the only African American awarded a 2005 Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in England. There have been 38 Rhodes scholars from the University of North Carolina since the program began in 1902. Carolina ranks second among public universities in numbers of Rhodes scholars produced.

She planned to do a Doctorate in Philosophy in Educational Studies at Oxford, using the opportunity to gain greater insight into the impact of race on educational achievement.

She said educational inequities that she witnessed as a youngster in Maryland spurred her interest in exploring how to bridge the achievement gap between white and minority students. She said she will pursue that topic at Oxford.

"I hope to continue my work in education policy by studying the achievement gap between minority and white students in the U.K. and comparing it to the achievement gap in the United States. I would like to see if any of the policies that they are implementing there would be useful in our efforts to close the achievement gap in the United States," she said.

She was then planning to work in education policy, either in the Department of Education or with a nonprofit that does education advocacy work. She is looking forward to meeting and learning from education leaders in the United Kingdom.

From an interview with UNC, "as a student, she demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and achieved an academic record of distinction." After graduating, she has devoted her efforts children and their future education. She "inspires immediate respect and confidence in everyone who encounters her." "An inevitable leader by her warm, confident demeanor and clear-eyed focus, she commands immediate trust. Rachel will be a powerful force in helping to reshape American public education in the years ahead." Rachel Mazyck is someone to watch.

[Rhodes Scholarships: Individuals up to age 24 may apply for the Rhodes Scholarship and must earn the endorsement of the university from which they graduated. The award pays all tuition, fees and living expenses for two years at Oxford, plus most travel expenses to and from the university. The scholarship will cover a third year at Oxford if it is needed for a student's area of study. Its value varies by academic field but averages $35,000 per year.]

Compiled from http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/12.02/01-rhodes.html, http://www.anothershadeofcolor.com, http://www.washingtonpost.com, and http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/nov04/rhodes112104.html.
[Photo by Harvard University Staff Kris Snibbe.]