Jordan Jefferson might be the busiest man on campus at Jackson State University and he’s just beginning. The senior wide receiver on the Tigers football team has been named a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
Jefferson already has plenty to do away from football practice. The political science major is also the SGA President at Jackson State. Now a finalist, Jefferson is moving on to the interview stage which will be held in Birmingham, Alabama in late November. If awarded Jefferson would be the first Rhodes Scholar in Jackson State History.
“It’s really a dream come true. My mom planted the idea for this opportunity in my mind several years ago. So for me to make it to the next step is humbling, exciting and nerve-racking,” Jefferson said.
The Rhodes Scholarship is a hallmark award for international study, with past recipients including former President Bill Clinton, MSNBC show host Rachel Maddow, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, and NFL player Myron Rolle.
Making the cut
Jefferson began the process as just one of approximately 2,500 applicants. The respective institutions endorsed 960 of those applicants. Those 960 were just beginning the process. That list was cut down by roughly 75 percent with 15 American finalists per 16 different U.S. districts. Thom Yu, associate director of U.S. Operations for the U.S. Rhodes American Trust advises that those numbers are estimates.
Each of the 16 U.S. districts will trim the finalists down to two awardees after the upcoming interview process. That will produce 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholars that will join an international group from over 60 countries for a global number of 100 scholars. The Rhodes Scholarship provides an all-expense paid education to the University of Oxford in England.
“This opportunity could super elevate what I am trying to do in life. I would be attaining a degree from one of the best universities in the world. It would help develop my ideologies regarding domestic change. I would also be studying with like-minded individuals and make major professional connections,” said Jefferson.
Jefferson said in an interview with Jackson State’s online newsroom that he one day plans to be mayor of his hometown, Jackson, Mississippi.
The only two HBCUs ever to produce Rhodes Scholars are Howard and Morehouse, with three each, according to The Rhodes Scholarship website.