Arizona man wins Rhodes Scholarship, heads to Oxford University

- It's one of the most prestigious academic honors in the world: the Rhodes Scholarship. Only the best of the best and one of this year's winners lives right here in the valley.

The Rhodes Scholarship is the world's oldest and most famous international fellowship program in the world. Two years at Oxford University in England for free. 

882 outstanding students from around the country applied this year and only 32 were chosen. 23-year-old Oscar De Los Santos is one of them.

St. Mary's Food Bank and others around the state are so important every day of the year, not just at holiday time. One of the people who helps keep them going is De Los Santos of Laveen. He's a manager of Public Policy at the Association of Arizona Food Banks in Phoenix and advocates for food banks at the state Capitol.

How does it feel to be a Rhodes Scholar?

"Interesting.  It feels obviously humbling and exciting," said De Los Santos.

De Los Santos came to Phoenix to teach and also help disadvantaged people. He was born in Los Angeles to parents who arrived as undocumented immigrants from Mexico in the 1970s and became citizens in the 1980s after President Ronald Reagan's amnesty.

Before that, he graduated from the University of Southern California as one of the school's top students.

He is incredibly happy to receive this honor, but he is also a little sad that of 32 Americans chosen as Rhodes Scholars, he is the only Latino.

"You know, I am disappointed that powerful institutions continue to undervalue and underestimate the talents of people of color in this country," he said.

He plans to put his experience as a Rhodes Scholar to good use.

"I want to work in public policy to create a more just world especially for vulnerable people immigrants the poor and hungry and make sure they are living up to their god-given potential," he said.

De Los Santos has a Bachelor's degree in political science. At Oxford, he plans to get a Master's degree in public policy and another in theology with an emphasis on Christian ethics. He also told us he can't do a convincing English accent, but is looking forward to eating fish and chips.

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