Joshua Aiken named Rhodes Scholar

Aiken, Washington University's 27th Rhodes Scholar, plans to study the refugee experience

Joshua Aiken, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, was one of 32 Americans chosen Saturday, Nov. 23, as a Rhodes Scholar. Considered among the world’s most prestigious academic awards, Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

Aiken plans to earn a master’s degree in sociology, studying the experience of refugees and asylum seekers.

Josh Aiken
Josh Aiken

Aiken, 21, is majoring in American culture studies and political science, with a minor in psychology, all in Arts & Sciences. A passionate advocate for both international human rights and domestic civil liberties, Aiken has served as a Humanity in Action American Fellow (2013), a U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission Summer Institute participant (2012) and a U.S. House of Representatives legislative intern (2012).

“I have always wanted to give voice to marginalized communities, whether they have been communities of color or LGBT communities,” Aiken said. “I have had the experience of being able to live openly and freely and to be who I am. Knowing that so many people can’t do that motivates me.”

At WUSTL, Aiken serves as co-chair of the Mosaic Project, a new program devoted to strengthening diversity on campus, and performs with WU-SLam, Washington University’s award-winning spoken-word poetry team. He is a member of the John B. Ervin Scholars Program, which provides a four-year scholarship to students who have demonstrated both exceptional academic and leadership skills and is part of the Gephardt Institute for Public Service Civic Scholars Program. He also has served as the undergraduate represenative to the WUSTL Board of Trustees.

“Josh is such an extraordinary gift to our community, and the Rhodes Scholarship is fitting recognition of his unlimited potential to be a force of positive change in our world,” said Joy Zalis Kiefer, PhD, associate dean of Arts & Sciences and director of undergraduate research.

Aiken’s family currently resides in Eugene, Ore. He graduated from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., where he twice was named “Student of the Year.”

Aiken is the 27th Rhodes Scholar from WUSTL.

To learn more about the Rhodes Scholarship, visit