Standing ovations are in order as we celebrate the four Black 2020 Rhodes Scholars, including Kristine E. Guillaume, the first Black female editor of the Harvard Crimson.

The Rhodes Scholarship grant is hailed as one of the highest honors bestowed upon college students worldwide and includes a full scholarship to the prestigious University of Oxford for a two-year master’s degree with a third year possible upon approval.

The program began through the will of Cecil Rhodes, former prime minister of Cape Colony in Africa. Rhodes made a large portion of his fortune through pillaging the motherland for diamonds through his BSAC, or British South Africa Company, and originally intended for the grant to go to white men from specifically English areas. As the scholarship requirements were revised, the grant would soon accept women, people of color and students from all countries. In 1907, Alain Leroy Locke of Harvard University was the first Black person to be named Rhodes Scholar, but there wouldn’t be another Black inductee until 1963. Some believe Locke slipped through the selection process because the committee didn’t know he was Black. 

Fast forward to 2020 and the Rhodes Scholarship has a sprinkle of Black girl magic with four women heading to Oxford, England, to begin studies this October. Guillaume, a Haitian-Chinese senior, made headlines late last year when Harvard announced that she would become the first Black female president of the nation’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the country, The Harvard Crimson.

She studies history and literature and African American studies at the university. She writes about student life, campus politics and other higher education-related issues and has also written for mainstream new stations, (including this inspirational piece on Michelle Obama). The Forest Hills, New York, native will double major in English and American studies as well as U.S. History while studying abroad.

2020 Black Rhodes Scholars also include Arielle Hudson of Tunica, Mississippi, who will graduate from Ole Miss with a bachelor's in English.

"I really want to go back and change to make a positive impact…as a teacher and as a future educational policymaker,” Hudson told The Daily Mississippian when speaking of the racial inequities that Mississippi students face.

Wanjiku Gatheru, an environmental studies major, made history as the first Rhodes Scholar from the University of Connecticut where she also minors in global studies and in urban and community studies.  

Just when I think I’ve run out of tears, they just. keep. coming. I am a 2020 Rhodes Scholar. The 1st in UConn's history and (by the looks of archives) the first Black person to receive the Rhodes, Truman, and Udall. This is unreal. Mom and Dad – I did it!!

— Wanjiku Gatheru (@wawagatheru) November 25, 2019

In a Twitter post, the first-generation American shares that she is the first Black person to win the Rhodes, Truman and Udall scholarships and tells her Kenyan parents, “I did it!”

She told the Hartford Courant that she wants to make environmentalism more inclusive and eventually run for office in Connecticut. 

Round of applause also goes out to Megan Yamoah, a physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who seeks to earn a master’s degree in economics. Although she spent her undergraduate years at MIT studying physics and writing papers that we need a dictionary to understand, the Washington Informer reports Yamoah wants to focus on helping entrepreneurs heighten impactful ideas.

We see y’all and we can not help but stan!