Mastroianni said he had to double-check that he had just heard his name.
“They had us sweating in this conference room, all 12 participants together for two and a half hours,” he said. “Then the committee walks through the door ... and the chair said my name and Courtney’s name, and the air came out of the room.”
Mastroianni, 22, is a senior studying social psychology at Princeton University in New Jersey. He said he wants to use his time at Oxford to study evidence-based social intervention, analyzing whether certain wellintended efforts actually have a positive change.
Mastroianni wants in particular to increase high school students’ college preparation — a goal he said was inspired in part by the limited opportunities in his small hometown.
Mastroianni graduated from Monroeville High School. His mother is a school superintendent, and his father is a rural mail carrier.
“I slept worse last night than I did the night before my interview because now I’ve got to figure out all these logistics,” he said with a laugh. “It’s all the little details. Where do I get my sheets?”
Wittekind wants to study anthropology at Oxford, focusing on conflict resolution, political transition and how that plays into displacement in Myanmar. She and Mastroianni were selected from 857 applicants endorsed by 327 colleges and universities.
Rhodes scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at Oxford. The value of the scholarships averages about $50,000 a year.