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Rhodes Scholar's Success A Testament to SCU Faculty and Staff

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

Aven Satre-Meloy, Class of 2013, was recently awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, just two years after winning a Fulbright Award to teach and do research in Turkey. The third Santa Clara University alumnus to win the award, Aven graduated summa cum laude with degrees in political science and environmental studies and was awarded the Nobili Medal, which each year goes to the male graduate judged outstanding in academic performance, personal character, school activities, and constructive contribution to the University. In many ways, he embodied the best elements of a Santa Clara education-rigorous academics and experiential education outside the classroom, all enriched by a passion for social justice.

Aven’s achievements have already begun to inspire current students to see themselves as potential Fulbright Fellows and Rhodes Scholars. Aven recently met with the Johnson Scholars and talked with them about how his experiences at the University made him a competitor in the prestigious fellowship programs. During his time at the University, he studied abroad in Turkey, served as a peer educator with One in Four—a sexual violence prevention program—and as a Community Facilitator, a member of the Associated Student Government, and a Hackworth Fellow in the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Aven may be most remembered as a key change agent in the development of a new University Honor Code.

In addition to Aven’s account of his educational opportunities, Aven’s application for the Rhodes Scholarship required 8 letters of recommendation from faculty and staff.  Letters were written by Christopher Bacon, David Decosse, Matthew Duncan, Dennis Gordon, John Farnsworth, Leslie Gray, Tedd Vanadilok, and a faculty member in Turkey complemented the institutional letter provided by Leilani Miller and Stephen Carroll. Faculty and staff from several departments also helped him prepare his application materials and practice for the interview portion of the competition.

Since the Office of Student Fellowships opened in 2005, the University has seen a significant increase in the number of students and alumni who have won prestigious fellowships and scholarships. Of the four alumni who became finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship, three applied between 2009 and 2014. The other alumnus advanced to the finals and received the Rhodes in 1955.

The Office of Student Fellowships was conceived by Richard Osberg (then Director of the University Honors Program) in consultation with a group of faculty and staff, and is currently directed by Leilani Miller. The office has focused its efforts on working directly with students to raise awareness of scholarship and fellowship opportunities and to help them prepare for the competitions. In the coming months, Leilani and her team will develop a series of workshops for faculty to help them think about how they might coach students who are interested in pursuing fellowships and to share strategies for writing strong letters of recommendation for grant and fellowship competitions. Dates and times will be announced in January.


With Aven Satre­Meloy’s achievement we have much to celebrate in the community effort that nurtured Aven during his time at SCU and in the exceptional individual that Aven has become. At Santa Clara University, the breadth of educational opportunities creates many options for students to find outlets for their diverse interests. Staff and faculty advise and mentor students through these experiences, a key part of the University’s effort to educate the whole person.