Mississippi State University celebrates fifth Rhodes Scholar in 10 years. Finalist from Brookhaven is first generation student.

Published 6:03 am Monday, November 22, 2021

A first-generation Mississippi State University student from Brookhaven is a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Christopher B. Robinson, a senior biological engineering major and Shackouls Honors College Presidential Scholar, virtually interviewed this week for what is widely considered the world’s oldest and most celebrated international fellowship. Robinson is MSU’s fifth Rhodes finalist in 10 years, joining graduates Field Brown, Natalie Jones, Holly Travis and Semaj Martin-Redd.

Criteria for selection include demonstrated scholarly achievement, character, commitment to others and the common good, as well as leadership potential.

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The Rhodes Trust, a British charity established in the will of businessman and mining magnate Cecil J. Rhodes, promotes international understanding and provides full financial support for students pursuing graduate degrees at the University of Oxford, the first of its kind in the English-speaking world and one of the world’s leading institutions of higher learning.

Robinson, whose biological engineering major is jointly housed in MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is a recipient of MSU’s Lila and Hunter Henry Presidential Endowed Scholarship. In spring 2021, Robinson became the sixth MSU honors student in seven years to receive a prestigious Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellowship. He also was named a finalist for the coveted Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

David Hoffman, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, also serves as director of the honors college’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships, which mentors Robinson and other MSU students applying for national, merit-based scholarships and fellowships.

Hoffman said Robinson’s selection as a Rhodes finalist is a testament to the “excellent” guidance he has received from MSU Associate Professor of Agricultural and Biomedical Engineering LaShan Simpson and MSU Associate Professor of English Don Shaffer. Simpson, who recently was named this year’s winner of the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Diversity Lecture Award, serves as an advisor for MSU’s Biomedical Engineering Association in which Robinson is serving this year as vice president. As the university’s Presidential Scholarship Mentor, Shaffer has become a strong role model in Robinson’s life.

“Being selected as a Rhodes finalist indicates that the Rhodes Trust’s reviewers saw in Christopher the qualities they expect in a Rhodes Scholar — outstanding intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service,” Hoffman said. “On top of that, they clearly saw his potential for making a difference and creating positive change in the world. We are so incredibly proud of him.”