Fourth-generation Jewish Atlantan Leah Michalove has been named a 2016 Rhodes Scholar.
The Emory University senior and Sandy Springs native is one of 32 American college students and two Georgians announced as winners Saturday, Nov. 21. Emory reported that she is the 19th student from the university to win one of the world’s most prestigious scholarships, which provides two or three years of study at Oxford University and is worth up to $50,000 per year.
Michalove, who is majoring in Middle Eastern and South Asian studies and minoring in anthropology, plans to use the scholarship to pursue the M.Phil. degree in social anthropology. She then plans to pursue a doctorate in anthropology, focusing on the Middle East.
“I’m so excited and grateful. I wouldn’t have gotten here without the support of friends, family and Emory. It’s going to give me an amazing opportunity to study at Oxford and build relationships with outstanding students from U.S. and around the world,” Michalove said in an Emory announcement.
A graduate of the Davis Academy and veteran of the Reform movement’s NFTY teen program, Michalove is the treasurer and outgoing president of Emory’s chapter of J Street U, which she helped found. She was one of eight Atlanta-area college students who went to the national conference of J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel lobbying group, in Washington in the spring. She told the AJT before that conference that she had visited Israel three times, most recently with Birthright Israel.
She has been an active campus proponent of a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution and an advocate of Israeli civil rights and pluralism, as in an AJT column she wrote a year ago to criticize a proposal for separate Jewish and Arab bus lines into the West Bank.
“As the inheritors of the legacy of Jewish civil rights, we are compelled to pursue justice and democracy and to hold those organizations and governments who seek to represent us truly accountable,” Michalove wrote.
At Emory, Michalove is a Dean’s Achievement Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a recipient of the Amy Johnson Study Abroad Award and an active member of the Emory Scholars Program. In the theater world, she has served as artistic director, production manager and stage manager for Dooley’s Players and as technical theater staff for AdHoc Productions.
She tutors students in Hebrew and Arabic and organizes Emory’s monthly Arabic Round Table. She spent a semester in Morocco, leading to her senior thesis on young Moroccans’ self-identity in an increasingly interconnected world. She focused on how modern Moroccan women express themselves through fashion and appearance.
“Leah Michalove is the kind of student who not only seizes every opportunity for learning, but also leads in every endeavor that engages her energy and talents,” Emory President Jim Wagner said. “So in that sense she represents the finest Emory students and will make a splendid ambassador for the United States and for Emory at Oxford University. We are thrilled at her success.”