BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three Maryland students are receiving one of the highest honors available to college students in America.

Last month, they were named Rhodes Scholars.

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One of them is Samuel Earl Patterson.

Samuel Earl Patterson

Patterson gets around the University of Maryland, Baltimore County campus quickly on his custom made skateboard, but he didn’t always have an easy time getting around while growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta.

“Skateboarding is something I’m able to do now because I’m in a place that has a more developed public transportation sector,” he said.

The economics of transportation will be the focus of Patterson’s studies at his next stop at the University of Oxford in England.

Patterson will be earning two master’s degrees, all paid for by the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. He’s only one of 32 Americans receiving it.

“It was actually very surprised when my name was called,” Patterson said. “I was very delighted.”

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He wants to someday work on improving geographic inequality and transportation poverty.

Patterson said without good access to public transportation, that can limit what people can access and achieve.

“There’s a lot of barriers that come up in this country and all over the world because you don’t have enough money, but there are also barriers because you’re just not in the right place or you can’t get to the right place,” he said.

Patterson will graduate from UMBC in the spring with degrees in mathematics, statistics and economics.

He hopes to eventually earn his Ph.D. and get to the bottom of some of the transportation problems he sees in the world.

“What I’m hoping to do is solve those problems at different levels,” Patterson said.

Patterson isn’t the only student in Maryland who was named a Rhodes Scholar.

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Vijayasundaram Ramasamy, a Johns Hopkins University graduate, and Midshipman 1st Class Lillian Ngo Usadi, at the U.S. Naval Academy, were also named Rhodes Scholars.

Stetson Miller