TRENTON, New Jersey — A northern New Jersey man is among 32 American students selected as the newest Rhodes Scholars.
The prestigious award won by Alexander J. Diaz of North Bergen provides him with all expenses for study at Oxford University in England. He will be there for two years, starting in October 2014, and plans to focus his studies comparative social policy.
"I didn't know if it was real at first," he said Sunday about learning that he had been chosen as Rhodes Scholar. "There were feelings of joy and tears of joy. I don't cry too much, but this has been a dream of mine and it's a blessing to just receive this tremendous award."
The 21-year-old Diaz is a senior at Harvard, where he majors in psychology. He also plays club basketball and has served as manager for the university's basketball team.
Diaz has focused his studies and research on the cognitive mechanisms that underlie unconscious race, ethnic and gender bias. He's also worked with leading law enforcement authorities to use psychological research to achieve less biased trials.
"This honor gives me the chance to learn more about social policy and also provides a platform to help get the changes I want implemented, to help people learn more about themselves and others," Diaz said.
While he's overseas, Diaz hopes to travel around Europe. He also plans to visit many communities in England and the United Kingdom to study and learn from the people who live in those areas.
This year's Rhodes Scholars were selected from 857 applicants endorsed by 327 colleges and universities.