Centre College senior Chase Palisch, of Calvert City, Ky., has been named a 2009 Rhodes Scholar. The winners were announced on Sunday. Palisch, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, is one of 32 winners among 769 applicants from 207 colleges and universities across the United States.
“Winning the Rhodes Scholarship is a great honor for Chase and a wonderful affirmation for Centre College’s faculty and staff,” says Centre President John Roush. “His accomplishment represents a dramatic fulfillment of our promise to empower students to achieve extraordinary success. It’s another indication that by any measure—the engagement of our students in the academic process, success in careers and advanced study, rankings and guidebooks—Centre is among the nation’s leaders.”
A Goldwater Scholar, Palisch is president of the student government senate; editor-in-chief of The Cento, the college newspaper; founding member of Centre’s science journal; and founder of the College’s club soccer team. He has completed research assistantships at Princeton and Duke and has a strong interest in virology. At Oxford, Palisch plans to pursue a doctorate in infection, immunity and a field called translational medicine, which takes medical research and applies it to a clinical setting. Eventually, he said, he would like to work in medical research.
“The excitement really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Palisch said. “I was completely surprised, and now all I realize is that I don’t fully realize what’s going to happen.” The Rhodes application is a two-tier process, and Palisch was one of 209 applicants from 107 colleges and universities who were invited to one of the 16 district interviews. He went to Washington, D.C., this past weekend for his district-level interview. On Friday evening, the finalists attended a reception, where they met the other finalists and the judges; on Saturday, they had their final interviews.
At the end of the reception on Friday, finalists drew numbers out of a hat to determine what time their interviews would be the following day. Palisch was third in line, and his interview was at 9:30 a.m. It wasn’t until 6 p.m. Saturday that the judges finished deliberating and prepared to announce their choices to receive Rhodes Scholarships.
“At this point, I resigned myself to the idea that I wasn’t going to be chosen,” Palisch said. “I was in a room full of people who absolutely deserved to win. Then the finalists were asked to line up, a judge pulled a card out of the envelope, and said ‘Chase Palisch,’ and I didn’t hear anything else after that!”
Palisch said that Centre helped prepare him for winning the Rhodes Scholarship.
“I’ve been at Duke and Princeton doing research, at premiere universities, and always felt well prepared. I’ve always known Centre’s education is on par with the top universities,” he said. “Centre gave me the freedom to pursue a scientific major while being involved in multiple aspects of the College community.”
Palisch is Centre’s eighth Rhodes Scholar. In the last 50 years, more than 70 percent of Rhodes Scholars from Kentucky schools have come from Centre.
About Rhodes Scholarships
Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England and may allow funding in some instances for four years. The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and best-known awards for international study and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates. They were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer.
The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 13 other jurisdictions around the world. Approximately 80 scholars are selected each year.
The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the field of study. The total value averages about $50,000 per year.