Columbia College Senior Named 2024 Rhodes Scholar

Mrinalini Sisodia Wadwha

Mrinalini Sisodia Wadhwa CC’24, has been named a 2024 U.S. Rhodes Scholar. She is among the 32 Americans chosen for the prestigious scholarship, which provides funding for two or three years of postgraduate study at Oxford. “Mrinalini has impressed many here at Columbia with her intellectual curiosity and generosity of spirit. I’m delighted to see her recognized in this way,” said Ariella Lang, associate dean of academic affairs and director of undergraduate research and fellowships. “Mrinalini is always the first to acknowledge the faculty and mentors who have supported her, and challenged her thinking, and I too want to recognize the faculty, advisors, and alumni community who have given unstintingly of their time to support Mrinalini and a truly inspirational group of nominees and finalists.”

U.S. Rhodes candidates must be nominated by their university before going through an extensive application process, and selection within the U.S. and among all international regions is highly competitive. Criteria include academic excellence, a commitment to the welfare of others and to contributing to good in the world, and evidence of good character and promise of great leadership.

Mrinalini is a senior in Columbia College double-majoring in History and Mathematics, who grew up between New Delhi, India, and New York City. She is interested in the intersections of gender, religion, and law, examining how religious knowledge is developed, transmitted, and codified into law in the context of the British and French empires, with resonances for present-day debates over rights-based claims in our legal systems. She has worked on archival projects ranging from the twentieth-century women's movement's engagement in constitutional reform within British India to the role of eighteenth-century French missionaries in developing and codifying knowledge of native religion, as well as legal research on advancing gender justice in constitutional law, pursuing research as a Laidlaw Scholar and Research Assistant at Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia Law School, and Columbia Department of History. Indeed, her time at Oxford as an undergraduate provided the initial inspiration for Mrinalini to apply to the Rhodes.

Aside from history, Mrinalini also enjoys studying languages, translation, and topics in topology and geometry. On campus, she has served as co-founder and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Journal of Asia, Chair of the Columbia History Association, and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Undergraduate Law Review, as well as a Rose Teaching Assistant, Writing Center Peer Fellow, and Student Representative to the Committee on the Core. As a Rhodes Scholar, Mrinalini plans to pursue an MPhil in Modern European History at the University of Oxford.