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USD Alum and National Scholar Winner Joshua Arens Returns to Campus

Joshua Arens at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. USD 2017 graduate and Rhodes Scholar Joshua Arens is earning his graduate degree at Oxford University in England. Here, he poses in his academic robes in front of Radcliffe Camera on Oxford's campus.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Joshua Arens, a 2017 summa cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of South Dakota, visited the Vermillion campus on Wednesday, Sept. 11, to discuss national scholarship opportunities with current students.

Arens, a Yankton, South Dakota, native, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental change and management at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom through a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. He is USD’s 10th Rhodes Scholar. Other prestigious national awards Arens has earned are two Fulbright awards (to study in the United Kingdom and Spain) and a Truman Scholarship providing up to $30,000 for graduate study.

On stage in Farber Hall with Melissa Berninger, associate director of the USD Honors Program and the campus coordinator for nationally competitive scholarship applications, Arens spoke about Oxford's traditions and his advice to students.

One of the Oxford traditions he discussed is that all students wear robes for their exams, which he says feels very much like Hogwarts, and they march single file into a large hall. He also talked about spending his Fulbright time in a chemistry lab in Tarragona, Spain, and basking on Mediterranean beaches when not under the fluorescent lighting of his studies. He added that USD faculty are more accommodating to their students than at any other university he has studied.

In addition to describing how to apply to and interview for various scholarships, Arens related the two best pieces of advice he has received over the years. The first came in his First-Year Experience course taught by Susan Hackemer, now director of USD’s International Office. She told all of the anxious first-year students that they should recognize that they are not unique in feeling overwhelmed and that they need to get past those feelings in order to make the most of college.

“Never think you aren’t good enough for the opportunities available through these competitive scholarships,” Arens also said to the audience. “Not applying is the only way you’re guaranteed not to get it.”


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News