BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s one of the most prestigious and coveted scholarships in the world. Now, Maryland has not one, but two Rhodes scholars.

Two brilliant young people from our area just learned they’re embarking on the educational journey of a lifetime.

Both students say they’re honored and shocked to get this prestigious honor.

“It was definitely a surprise to hear my name called,” said Nate Bermel, Rhodes scholar and Navy Midshipman.

Bermel still can’t believe he’s been named a Rhodes scholar.

The Midshipman, who has a perfect 4.0 grade point average, learned over the weekend that he’s among 32 American recipients, a group of exceptional intellectuals.

But he remembers how his journey at the U.S. Naval Academy began.

“I didn’t shave on the first day, and the reason I didn’t shave is because I didn’t know you shave in the military, so I think I’ve come a long way from there,” Bermel said.

Bermel is one of two Rhodes scholars who live in Maryland.

“I can’t even believe it,” said Naomi Mburu, Rhodes scholar chemical engineering student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Mburu was also awarded the global scholarship to study at Oxford University in England.

“One of the key defining aspects of the Rhodes is that you have to want to change the world, and I know that I want to change the world,” Mburu said.

Mburu grew up in Howard County. Her parents are from Kenya.

The first generation American is working on a chemical engineering degree. Like her fellow Maryland Rhodes scholar, she’s also interested in politics.

“One of the issues that I’m really passionate about is education and equality,” she said.

“I see the Rhodes scholarship and my time at Oxford as really a great opportunity to learn and to study, and to figure out who I want to be, and the type of leader I want to be,” Bermel said.

The scholarships are worth a whopping $68,000 per year.

The students say meeting the other finalists was not intimidating at all.

The group played a game of UNO while waiting for the results.

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