ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Two Naval Academy students in Annapolis will soon head to Oxford University in England after being chosen for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Monique Griego spoke with one of the students about the honor.

Katie Whitcombe is one of 32 Americans chosen for this prestigious scholarship. She is an example of how someone can come from nothing and achieve their dreams.

Katie Whitcombe’s path to the U.S. Naval Academy wasn’t a typical one. The daughter of a Filipino immigrant, her family struggled financially. She always thought college was out of her reach.

“I was looking at what my options were and I thought the best way to get out of poverty was to enlist in the military,” said Whitcombe.

But an alert recruiter saw her potential and convinced Whitcombe to apply for Annapolis. Now in her senior year, she once again beat the odds. Whitcombe was selected as one of 32 Americans to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

“It’s actually still overwhelming. I feel like I’m living a dream right now,” she said.

The award pays all the expenses for Whitcombe to study at Oxford University in England for up to four years. There she plans to focus on modern Chinese studies, in order to one day work with human trafficking victims.

“It looks for someone who is not just a bookworm, not just academics but is a well-rounded individual and passionate about leading,” said Whitcombe.

Finances recently forced Whitcombe’s parents to move back to the Philippines, but she believes this award is the beginning of a better future.

“I hope this scholarship and opportunities I have will lead me to a better life where my family and all of us can be together again,” she said.

After graduating from Oxford, Whitcombe will begin her service in the Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant.

This year, a second Naval Academy student, Christian Heller, was also selected for the Rhodes Scholarship.


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