Four students with ties to North Carolina universities are among the latest to be awarded one of 32 prestigious Rhodes scholarships. It's a Tobacco Road trifecta with Duke University, Wake Forest University, and UNC all having students honored.

Duke leads the way with two senior winners. Kendall Jeffreys is double-majoring in English and Environmental Science and Policy. She's joined by classmate Jamal Burns, a history major.

Wake Forest senior Savarni Sanka of Cary will also be headed to England to continue her academic studies at Oxford University. She's planning to pursue a Master of Public Policy and Master of Science in refugee and forced migration studies.

“Having had the opportunity to work alongside Winston-Salem's migrant community has been one of the most rewarding parts of my college career,” Sanka says in a release from the university.

"My parents immigrated to the States from India in the 1990s and seeing the marginalization and silencing that migrant communities often face, I wanted to be a part of building more equitable and just societies where everyone has access to opportunity and where everyone's voice can be heard,” she says.

2020 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Peter Andringa, who majored in journalism and computer science, is the 50th Rhodes Scholarship winner in the university's history. Duke reached that milestone last year.

The award was established in 1902.

The process to elect the scholars has been completed virtually for the first time as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the globe.

The group includes 22 students of color. Ten are Black, tying the record for most Black students elected in a single year. Nearly 1,000 applicants were endorsed by 288 different colleges and universities.

Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, have winners for the first time. The winners include 17 women, 14 men, and one nonbinary person.

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