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New Jersey who attends Harvard is among 32 American students selected Rhodes scholars

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TRENTON, New Jersey — A central New Jersey woman is among 32 American students selected as the newest Rhodes scholars.

The prestigious award won by Ruth Fong, of Somerset, provides her with all expenses for study at Oxford University in England. She will be there for two years, starting in October 2015, and plans to seek separate Masters in computer science and in mathematics and foundations in computer science.

"I was pretty shocked when I first heard it, and I still am pretty shocked," she said Sunday about learning that she had been chosen as a Rhodes Scholar. "My first thought was 'why did they choose me?'" she said jokingly, noting that she had earlier texted her parents and told them she didn't think she would get the honor.

The 21-year-old Fong is a senior at Harvard University, majoring in computer science. Her senior thesis focuses on how computers can intuitively identify and perceive objects in a way that more closely mimics the human brain.

While she's overseas, Fong hopes to travel "all around Europe" and may get involved with intramural crew at Oxford.

Fong said she was very thankful for her family and the many people who have helped her along the way with their encouragement and support. A graduate of Timothy Christian School in Piscataway, she said the school was highly important to her character development.

"I'm really thankful to God for opening and closing doors for me," she said.

Fong won a highly competitive scholarship from Apple for women in technology, and a Tech in the World Fellowship to work on infectious disease data in Tanzania. She also is extremely active as an advocate for special needs causes.

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