Two Cornell Students Named Rhodes Scholars

Dobyns, '13, co-founded a company that makes solar lights out of plastic bottles, Young plans to be a philosophy professor....

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By Susan Kelly via the Cornell Chronicle, 11/20/12

One co-founded a company that makes solar lights out of plastic bottles for people without electricity in the developing world. The other is interested in how morality, inequality and philosophy apply to everyday life.

They are two Cornell students who are among a select few American recipients of Rhodes Scholarships for 2013. The award pays for two years of study at the University of Oxford, England.

Christopher "Kit" Dobyns '13 is an Africana studies major with minors in inequality studies and law and society; Daniel Young '13 is a philosophy major minoring in South Asian studies.

Dobyns plans to pursue a master's degree in refugee and forced migration studies. His career goal is to support the development of green economies in conflict zones, promoting peace in the developing world through the lens of entrepreneurship, he said.

"I was incredibly humbled when I heard I had been chosen. Studying at Oxford will greatly enrich my life's work, and I know that such an opportunity would not have been possible without the support that I received from my professors," he said.

Dobyns' co-founded a company, Encore Planet, that provides low-cost, energy-efficient lighting to rural areas of developing countries. He has studied Kiswahili and Zulu, taught English in Rwanda, worked at an orphanage in Tanzania and created a curriculum on human rights abuses for a high school in Rwanda. On campus, he is involved in Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

He is executive director of Cornell's Social Business Consulting Group and was a member of the Cayuga Heights Fire Department. Last year he received a Udall scholarship in recognition of his commitment to environmental work. Dobyns is a resident of Highland, Md.

Young plans to pursue a master's-equivalent degree in philosophy at Oxford to prepare for a career as a philosophy professor.

"I'm thrilled that the Rhodes Trust has decided to support me in my efforts to learn more about philosophy and social critique. My education so far has been a highly collective endeavor, but I should really mention [associate philosophy] Professor Michelle Kosch, who more than anyone has endured my incessant questions. I'd like to thank all my other professors as well as my friends and family, who have helped shape me into a better person," he said.

Young is interested in thinkers like American abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who use personal and historical experience to explore how humans regretfully inhibit their own freedom and the freedom of others. He spent last spring in Nepal with the Cornell-Nepal Study Program and conducted independent research on Dalit ("untouchable") castes' activism and caste discrimination.

A College Scholar, he volunteers as a teaching assistant in the Cornell Prison Education Program and as a backpacking guide for Outdoor Odyssey and Cornell Outdoor Education. He is a member of Protestant Cooperative Ministry and sings with Cornell Glee Club. Last year he was named a national Beinecke scholar in recognition of his academic accomplishments. Young is a resident of Charlottesville, Va.

Established in 1903 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes is the world's oldest international graduate scholarship program. About 85 scholars are selected annually based on academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor.

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