Jennifer Bumgarner, a Wake Forest University senior, was named a Rhodes Scholar Saturday.
Bumgarner, 21, is one of 32 American students who won Rhodes Scholarships for study at Oxford University next fall. She is the seventh Wake Forest student to be named a Rhodes Scholar since 1986.
“It is wonderful and a great honor,” said Bumgarner, a Hickory native.
While at Oxford, Bumgarner plans to pursue Russian and East European Studies. She plans a career in policy development for charitable groups and human rights organizations.
At Wake Forest, she is majoring in politics. She holds a Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholarship, which covers the full cost of attending Wake Forest and provides funds for summer study. Last summer, Bumgarner traveled to Eastern Europe to study the Roma people, also called gypsies. Her research focuses primarily on charitable organizations that provide services to the Roma.
During the summer of 1997, she was a volunteer for the Red Cross in the Transcarpathia region of Ukraine. While there, she taught English classes and helped set up a local crisis hotline for women. “Jennifer’s energy, spirit and creativity have been especially evident in her volunteer work with the Red Cross in Ukraine and her studies of the Roma population,” said Wake Forest Associate Professor of Economics Perry Patterson.
Bumgarner also volunteered with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in 1996. Wake Forest students annually travel to India during the Christmas holidays to work at Missionaries of Charity facilities.
“Jennifer’s concern for the plight of those less fortunate and her curiosity with the different ways communities seek to meet their needs inspired her to explore the trends of volunteerism in the Ukraine,” said Paige Wilbanks, coordinator of volunteer services at Wake Forest and leader of the trip to India. “This initiative enabled her to further consider her interest in international studies and to glean a global perspective on the needs of those marginalized by society.”
She is on the editorial board of The Philomathesian, a campus journal of non-fiction writing, and served as the student representative on the university’s Commission on the Status of Women. Bumgarner was also chosen as the Wake Forest delegate to the Student Conference on United States Affairs.
“Her scholarly and extracurricular activities on and off campus are reflective of many of her qualities: intellectual curiosity, persistence, hard work, initiative, and a desire to make a difference,” according to Wake Forest Associate Professor of Politics Helga Welsh, one of the professors who recommended Bumgarner for the Rhodes.
She is the daughter of Doug and Ginny Bumgarner of Hickory.
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