Santa Clara University

SCU Today

Back to Blog

Philosophy major, women's cross country and track team captain named to elite list of Rhodes Scholars

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Nov. 24 -- Noelle R. Lopez, the captain of Santa Clara University's women's cross country and track team and a philosophy major, was named Saturday as one of 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholars, one of academia's most prestigious awards granted to students of "high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor."

Lopez is the first woman from SCU to achieve this honor and only the second SCU student to do so since alumnus Arthur Hull Hayes Jr. in 1955.

Winners receive all-expenses-paid scholarships for postgraduate study in Oxford, England.

Lopez has already garnered some of Santa Clara University's highest awards, including numerous scholarships, prizes, and grants. Consistently on the Dean's list, she also was one of three recipients of the Hackworth Fellowships in Applied Ethics and received the Donovan Fellowship grant for students wishing to deepen their knowledge of social justice through a community-based learning experience.

"The entire Santa Clara University community congratulates Noelle for her well-deserved recognition,' said President Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. "Her outstanding scholastic, athletic, and personal achievements reflect the best of the Jesuit ideal - the education of the whole person. She is also a stellar model of Santa Clara's vision of educating leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion -values that we strive to infuse in every student.'

Rhodes scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, the British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. His intent was to reward those with the potential to make an effective and positive contribution throughout the world, who "esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim." Each year the U.S. scholars join about 50 other international students at Oxford. This year in the U.S., 769 students applied, having been endorsed by 207 different colleges and universities.

At SCU, Lopez has been a standout leader in the area of ethics, a field she plans to continue studying at Oxford. Through the Hackworth fellowship, she has been focusing with her peers on the question: "What do we mean when we use the term 'social justice'?" She has also been a peer educator for the class "Ethical Issues in Society" as well as an English-as-a-Second-Language tutor through the Santa Clara Community Action Program.

Lopez said Rhodes' vision meshes perfectly with her studies and focus on ethics at Santa Clara University. "My interests and desires for the future matched up well with those put forth by the Rhodes scholarship," she said. "I am really grateful for the support of the university, and for all the opportunities that it allowed me in the last four years."

"The Santa Clara community could not be more proud of Noelle Lopez on this incredible honor," said Santa Clara Athletic Director Dan Coonan. "In so many ways she is the consummate Jesuit-educated student-athlete. She is a brilliant student, a gifted athlete and leader on her team. She has a huge heart, which is evidenced by her commitment to community service and social justice. On top of all this she has a very modest and unassuming personality that people are naturally drawn to. She is an inspiration to us all."

West Coast Conference Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich also congratulated Lopez, noting that Rhodes Scholars are "the personification of the student-athlete ideal, and those who are deemed worthy of its honor can pride themselves on having lived up to its lofty standard."

A 2005 graduate of Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, Ariz., Lopez participated in cross country and track and played freshman basketball. She was named an Arizona Interscholastic Athletics Scholar-Athlete. She placed second in the 5A Arizona Cross Country Championships in 2004 and was All-State. She was named an Arizona Dairy Council All-American, and selected as Southern Arizona Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year by the Tucson Citzen/Arizona Daily Star.

In high school she was named a National Hispanic Merit Scholar and was a member of Students Against Drunk Driving and the National Honor Society. She volunteered at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and with Habitat for Humanity.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,685 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact: Deepa Arora - 408-554-5125;

Tags: rhodes

Printer-friendly format