“We are extremely proud of Josh and very happy for him,” said UAB President Carol Garrison. “Our number of national and international scholars has grown in
recent years, which reflects UAB’s commitment to academic excellence and the students’ commitment to their own education and to becoming global citizens. Being a Rhodes Scholar is the ultimate honor. Josh worked extremely hard for this, and it is well earned.”
The Rhodes Trust only selects 32 students each year to study at England’s Oxford University. Carpenter was chosen from a field of 830 applicants from 299 different colleges. He is the fifth finalist from UAB since 2006 and the first to win the honor since Neelaksh Varshney became the school’s inaugural winner in 2000.
“In Oxford there is a constant message of seeking to know all the dimensions of an issue and finding the core ideas that will solve problems,” Carpenter said. “Since graduating UAB, I haven’t had a chance to dive down into the issues I’m passionate about, so two years in Oxford will be great.”
He started a program to train college students to prepare tax returns for low-income families and taught writing and math to high-school students in Birmingham city schools while a student at UAB. Carpenter is in the second year of his two-year commitment to Teach for America, for which he teaches English and coaches football and baseball in Marion County, Ala. He is part of the first class of Alabamians to join the Teach for America program, which sends future leaders to teach in low-income communities. His students have inspired him to do more.
“Education is a cog in the wheel of cyclical poverty that is limiting people’s chances at good housing, exposure to new careers and access to health care that restricts their way of life,” says Carpenter. “At Oxford, I will study upward social mobility through education and ways we can give individuals who are born into poverty an equal chance to move out of poverty.”
Carpenter, a 2009 Truman finalist, spent his summer in the White House Internship Program with the Office of Presidential Correspondence and was named co-leader of one of WHIP’s public service initiatives. Carpenter helped coordinate interns to aid the Capital Area Food Bank in the distribution of 25 million pounds of food to those in need.
Carpenter plans to begin his studies at Oxford in September; he will spend two years earning a master of philosophy degree in comparative social policy.
The Rhodes Trust selects winners based on outstanding scholarly achievements, commitment to others and to the common good and for their potential for leadership. The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest international educational fellowships. There have only been 59 Rhodes Scholars from the state of Alabama since the honors’ inception in 1904.