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Updated 11:30 AM December 6, 2004




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Engineering student wins prestigious Rhodes Scholarship

Joseph Jewell wants to be an astronaut or a professor, or both. But first he's going to spend two years at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
(Photo courtesy Joseph Jewell)

Jewell, a graduate student in aerospace engineering, is one of 32 U.S. students awarded a Rhodes Scholarship this year. In addition to being an honors student who scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT, the 23-year-old is an accomplished musician and student government leader.

"I've had to pick carefully what I did, but yes, I do sleep," he says with a laugh.

Jewell—a native of Stevensville, Mich., on Lake Michigan—will start at Oxford next fall. That gives him just enough time to finish a master's degree at Michigan, where he is working on hypersonic aerodynamics and turbulence in the lab of Werner J.A. Dahm.

"We are tremendously pleased that Joseph chose Michigan for graduate studies," Provost Paul N. Courant says. "He's obviously one of the finest young scholars you could hope to meet, and a well-rounded person besides. Michigan is thrilled to share him with Oxford."

At Oxford, he will pursue a research master's in engineering, but also play timpani in the symphony. "And I intend to see as much of Europe as possible."

Jewell received his undergraduate degree at the California Institute of Technology, which nominated him for the Rhodes. He finished with a 3.8 average with degrees in both aeronautics and history. He also was secretary of the student council at Caltech and played percussion in the Occidental-Caltech symphony and concert band.

He flew three times aboard the NASA zero-gravity experiment plane, a refitted KC-135 tanker affectionately known as the "Vomit Comet."

Jewell co-authored a study guide, "Up Your Score: The Underground Guide to the SAT, 2001-2002 Edition." He received the United States Presidential Scholar medallion from President (and former Rhodes Scholar) Bill Clinton at a White House ceremony.

Jewell's father, Stephen, is the news editor of the St. Joseph Herald-Palladium. His mother, Suzanne, teaches elementary school. Though the Herald-Palladium broke the news of the scholarship right away, "over the years, I may not have gotten as much coverage as I would have if I weren't the editor's son," Jewell says.

The Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and colonial pioneer, who specified that the scholarship be awarded for high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.

The Rhodes Trust provides two or three years of study at Oxford, including college and university fees, a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. The total value averages approximately $35,000 a year.

In addition to the 32 Americans, scholars are selected from Australia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Canada, the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Southern Africa (South Africa, plus Botswana, Lesoto, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Approximately 95 scholars are selected worldwide each year.

For more information on Rhodes Scholars, visit

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