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.”

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