Two Penn students named Rhodes Scholars 2022


Nicholas Thomas-Lewis (left) and Raveen Kariyawasam received the Rhodes Scholarship. (Photos by Nicholas Thomas-Lewis and Raveen Kariyawasam)

Two members of Penn’s Class of 2022 have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which allows students to fund up to three years of graduate study at the University of Oxford.

Nicholas Thomas-Lewis, college senior, Kimball, Nebraska and Wharton, and Raveen Kariyawasam, engineering senior, Colombo, Sri Lanka, bring the total number of Rhodes Penn scholars to 33. The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest international scholarship program in the world, awarding 102 scholarships each year. to students around the world.

This is the fifth consecutive year that Penn students have been among the scholarship recipients. In 2020, college graduate Mackenzie Fierceton was named a Rhodes Scholar and in 2019 two Penn students won scholarships.

Thomas-Lewis is a double major in Cognitive Sciences and Health and Societies with a minor in Neuroscience. His interests focus on mental health and addiction, as well as how to deal with these issues from a social perspective. Thomas-Lewis said his specializations gave him a more holistic understanding of these topics.

“I’ve always found that I really wanted to do something that could change and make a difference in society and studying at Oxford is really going to allow me to do that,” said Thomas-Lewis.

It plans to pursue a master’s degree in Medical Anthropology and Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Assessment, which is a research-based program focused on the study of practices and policies surrounding issues such as poverty and mental health.

Thomas-Lewis, who will be one of 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholars for 2022, said he takes a lot of inspiration from his family. Thomas-Lewis said his father struggled with alcoholism, which motivated him to make sure no one else had to go through what he went through.

He said intervention with young people is needed to break cycles of intergenerational issues such as substance abuse.

In addition to his classes, Thomas-Lewis is Co-Chair of the Dean’s Admissions Advisory Committee, Tour Guide for the Kite & Key Society, and a member of Penny Loafers a cappella.

Kariyawasam studies finance, entrepreneurship and innovation at Wharton and bioengineering at Penn Engineering. He entered Penn as a bioengineering specialization and quickly became interested in engineering and healthcare software. His curiosity as to why certain laboratory technologies were not present in his home country and had not been applied to the real world led him to add Wharton’s degree in addition to engineering.

Kariyawasam said his primary focus is on the relationship between healthcare software and the social and cultural barriers that can limit accessibility. He said some of the notable research projects he worked on while at Penn include an electronic medical record system for low-resource countries and a self-monitoring kit for cystic fibrosis patients in low-resource settings. resources.

Outside of class, Kariyawasam is a board member of the Wharton Undergraduate Healthcare Club, DJ at WQHS, editor of the biotech journal Synapse, and vice president of the Phi Sigma Biological Honor Society.

Kariyawasam said he decided to apply for the Rhodes due to the opportunity to study at Oxford Martin School where he could merge his interests in business and STEM.

He will join a special program on global epilepsy at the Martin School that focuses on epilepsy in low- and middle-income countries. He will pursue a D. Phil. degree, which is known as a doctorate. in the United States, in engineering sciences while focusing on bioengineering.

“I really wanted to find a place where I would fit in,” he said of Oxford. “As I am an international student, I spent five years in America. I kind of want to see what’s going on across the pond too.

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