West Point Military Academy Hillel leader Daniel I. Helmer of Colts Neck, N.J., and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Hillel leader Elizabeth Kistin of Corrales, N.M., were elected as 2003 Rhodes Scholars. Kistin and Helmer were among 32 other students nationwide to be named as Rhodes Scholars.
Daniel I. Helmer graduated from the United States Military Academy with majors in Military History and Arabic. Daniel won awards at West Point for excellence in research and writing, as well as in history, and was a varsity gymnast. President of the West Point Hillel Society, he wrote his thesis on Hezbollah and terrorism. He was named Hillel's 2002 Student Exemplar of Excellence at the Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Assembly. He has played an instrumental role at the Military Academy as a leader, helping his peers worship, hang mezzuzot on their barrack's doors, and gain access to kosher food during Passover. He also conceived, organized and implemented the Jewish Cadet Hillel Spring Retreat that included a community service project to help the hungry and homeless. Daniel expects to be posted to Iraq within 30 days.
Elizabeth Kistin is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she majors in political science and Latin American studies. Kistin took a lead role in the Hillel Tzedek Leadership Initiative 2000-2001 and was a founding member and current leader of Hillel's Project Rush Hour, a program that combats hunger and poverty in the community. Through this program, Kistin has recruited and trained students to work with a local assistance center, the Interfaith Council for Social Services, and organized a conference on hunger and homelessness. She is devoted to community development in this country. Elizabeth has also lived and worked in poor rural communities in Ecuador, Costa Rica and Oaxaca, where she has studied how development strategies can become more effective.
The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest international study award for American students. It was established in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor. The students will enter the University of Oxford in England next October, and the scholarship will provide two or three years of study at the university. The scholars were selected from 963 applicants.