Date: December 5, 1998
Contact: Stephen Collins
William R. Polkinghorn, a Colby College senior from Santa Monica, Calif., was named a Rhodes Scholar on December 5. He is one of 32 Americans who will begin studies next fall at Britain's University of Oxford under the prestigious scholarship program, financed by the will of Cecil Rhodes, who died in 1902.
Polkinghorn is the son of William and Sharon Polkinghorn of Santa Monica. He is a graduate of Loyola High School there and spent a post-graduate year at The Taft School in Watertown, Conn., before matriculating at Colby in 1995.
At Colby he is a double major, in chemistry and religious studies. He won Colby's Phi Beta Kappa scholarship as the top-ranking member of his class, was the only member of his class inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, and won Colby's Bixler scholarship all three years that he was eligible. He also won a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for 1997-98, one of 282 of 1,164 applicants in that national competition.
Polkinghorn says that early in his high school years he was getting C's and D's. After doctors diagnosed him with Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) and prescribed medication to treat it, "a light switch came on," he said. Gradually he developed study skills and his grades improved. At Colby he has had no grade lower than an A, and he currently has a 4.19 grade-point average.
Polkinghorn, who aspires to be an M.D./Ph.D., will study an interdisciplinary program in physiology, psychology and philosophy at Oxford. "I am very interested in the public-policy issues related to mental illness and the ethics of neuropharmacology," he said.
Colby, founded in 1813, produced five Rhodes scholars prior to Polkinghorn. This year Colby produced both finalists in the statewide competition-Polkinghorn and Jennie Oberzan of Saco, Maine, also a senior.