back to news Nov. 25, 2019

Arts and Sciences student named 2020 Rhodes Scholar

Arts and Sciences senior Henry Wu has been named a 2020 Rhodes Scholar, one of the most prestigious awards for college seniors and recent graduates. The Rhodes Scholarship was founded in 1902 and supports graduate study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Thirty-two scholarships are awarded annually to outstanding students across the United States. Wu, a double major in philosophy and political science, was selected for his commitment to fighting human trafficking and researching migration patterns and policies impacting the involuntary movement of peoples.

At Oxford, Wu will join an international group of Rhodes Scholars chosen from more than 60 countries around the world. He plans to pursue Master of Science (MSc) degrees in migration studies and evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation. This multidisciplinary course of study will enable Wu to examine the ways in which policy choices, including immigration policies, can limit or expand freedom. After earning these degrees at Oxford, Wu will return to the U.S. to attend law school and pursue a career in international law and policy. 

Wu is also a university honors student, Eminence Fellow and recipient of the Jeanne Bonnet McCoy Preeminent Scholarship, and he has achieved a stellar academic record as he has studied the legal and social contexts of migration and philosophical notions of freedom and slavery. During his first year at Ohio State, Wu heard from nonprofit professionals about the issue of human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery happening just miles away from the Ohio State campus.

"I am extremely fortunate that I was not forcibly separated from my parents when we immigrated to the United States," said Wu, whose family emigrated from China. "I now understand how restrictive immigration policies can put migrants at greater risk of exploitation and trafficking in the United States ... and I will fight for a world where the dignity of the most vulnerable is protected just as my own."

As part of the Eminence Fellows program, Wu co-founded "Enlighten," which mobilizes students to confront human trafficking and create a culture of compassion through on-campus awareness and direct community engagement. Wu has also established connections with anti-trafficking student leaders at Boston College, Penn State University, SUNY Albany and Emory University. Recently, Wu created a partnership with the Ohio State Moritz College of Law to provide mentorship events for minors who have been trafficked, including a trauma-informed self-defense course at a local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy to help them gain self-confidence. While Enlighten grew from his Eminence cohort's service project, Wu has pursued high-level internships at various NGOs such as Free the Slaves and the Human Trafficking Legal Center. Additionally, Wu volunteers at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, where he helps survivors of human trafficking overcome criminal record-based barriers.

Wu is Ohio State's eighth Rhodes Scholar; the university's last recipient was Laila Ujayli just this previous year in 2019. This is the first time in Ohio State's history in which students have been named Rhodes Scholars in consecutive years.