Antonio Delgado ’99 Named Rhodes Scholar

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Colgate University senior Antonio Delgado of Schenectady, NY, is one of 32 students selected nationwide as Rhodes Scholars for 1999. Befitting the oldest and arguably the most prestigious international fellowship, Rhodes Scholars are selected through an exacting process of applications and interviews by which judges determine applicants’:

  • literary and scholastic attainments;
  • fondness for and success in sports;
  • truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship;
  • moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow human beings.

Delgado’s application — which included a transcript of his academic and extracurricular record, references from faculty members and administrators, and a 1,000-word essay about his interests and aspirations — was first judged on campus, and then forwarded to a Rhodes selection committee for New York State. The state committee invited 13 candidates from across the state to New York City last week for an evening reception and a round of interviews the following day. Following those interviews, the eight-member state committee chose three candidates to move on to district competition.

The United States is divided into eight districts for election of Rhodes Scholars, with four Scholars named annually from each district. District II comprises New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, and Delgado was one of three New Yorkers who advanced to the district round, which was also held in New York City, December 4 and 5. Late Saturday afternoon, following a day of district interviews, Delgado learned that he had been elected for the scholarship.

Rhodes candidates are responsible for their own expenses in traveling to the interview sessions. Mark Hayes, who was a Rhodes candidate from Colgate last year, opened his New York apartment to Delgado to ease his expenses.

The Rhodes Scholarship will pay all of Delgado’s expenses for two years of study at the University of Oxford in England, where he intends to major in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE). Delgado’s first year of study at Oxford will lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the second year to a Masters. He will have the option of applying for a third year of study, which could lead to a PhD. Delgado said he hopes to use his time at Oxford ‘to develop my thoughts and ideas for my thesis,’ with the goal of teaching philosophy at the college level.

At Colgate Delgado has a dual academic concentration in philosophy and political science, though he said that was not always his intention. He had enrolled intending to become a doctor, but a required first-year seminar titled What is Real and What is True, he said, “turned my life around.” Political science professor Joseph Wagner, who taught the seminar, became Delgado’s academic adviser and is one of many faculty members who the senior credited with influencing him over the past four years.

Delgado played basketball at Colgate during his first two years on campus, which included the team’s latest trip to the NCAA championships in 1996 at Indianapolis. His essay for the Rhodes application described how he has made the transition from a love of basketball to a love of philosophy.

A Dean’s List student, he is a head resident in the college’s housing system, coordinating the efforts of resident advisers who staff college-owned apartments. He is also host to a regular program on the student television station CUTV. Titled Race-ing Times, the program examines issues of race and gender. Delgado is a member of the Dream Team, which fosters racial harmony through sponsorship of campus events; Skin Deep, which explores racial issues; and the college’s Society of Leaders.

Rhodes Scholarships are funded through a provision in the will of Cecil J. Rhodes, an Oxford alumnus and British colonial pioneer and statesman who died in 1902. The first American Rhodes Scholars were selected in 1904; a total of 54 Rhodes Scholarships are awarded annually in 18 other countries. The Rhodes program says Cecil Rhodes “dreamed of bettering the lot of humankind through the diffusion of leaders motivated to serve their contemporaries, trained in the contemplative life of the mind, and broadened by their acquaintance with one another and by their exposure to cultures different from their own. Rhodes hoped that his plan of bringing able students from throughout the English speaking world to study at the University where he took his degree in 1881 would aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace. Rhodes sought Scholars who were more than ‘mere bookworms’; he wanted their intellectual talents to be combined with concern for others.”