It’s been nearly 40 years since a Boise State University graduate earned the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most prestigious fellowships in the world. But last week, BSU announced another former student was named a Rhodes Scholar — the first woman in the school’s history to do so.
Elena Gallina, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s in multidisciplinary studies and a minor in Arabic, will attend the University of Oxford in London with all expenses paid for up to four years. In a BSU news release, she said she plans to pursue graduate degrees in business administration and refugee and forced migration studies.
She hopes to use her education to reduce violence against women in conflict zones.
She’s one of 32 Americans named Rhodes Scholars in 2018. The last Boise State student to earn the fellowship was global investment banker Karl Knapp in 1981. Two years prior, filmmaker Michael Hoffman was the first.
According to the release, Gallina has a long history with communities in need.
“Growing up the child of humanitarian aid workers in the aftermath of the Balkan wars, she witnessed firsthand the ill effects mishandled aid can have on society, and the ways in which communities struggle to recover from disaster,” the release said.
She has also worked on humanitarian efforts in Jordan, Swaziland, Israel, Palestine, the Balkans and Boise.
Gallina spent the summer working for the State Department. She has since moved to Albania, where she works as “a photographer for an economic development group and as a language tutor for members of the media.”
The scholarship is part of a growing list of accolades Gallina has earned. According to BSU, she graduated from the school’s Honors College and was previously a Rhodes Scholar finalist. She was BSU’s first Boren Scholarship recipient and received the university’s second Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
“We are thrilled that Elena has been selected as a Rhodes Scholar,” said Andrew Finstuen, dean of the Honors College, in the release. “She exemplifies what Rhodes calls ‘moral force of character.’ Across the globe — from the Balkans to Africa to the Middle East to Idaho — Elena has been advocating for the health and welfare of women and children. She is, quite simply, a humane force for change in the world.”