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David Robinson

Princeton University Senior Selected as Rhodes Scholar

Candace Braun

Philosophy major and journalist hopeful, David Robinson, 22, a student at Princeton University, has been awarded a 2004 Rhodes Scholarship.

The scholarship will provide Mr. Robinson with funding for two to three years of study at the University of Oxford.

Mr. Robinson was one of 32 American students chosen among 963 applicants nationwide, who were selected on the basis of high academic achievement, integrity, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.

"No one tells you they think you're going to win, and you don't think you're going to win," said Mr. Robinson. "But I was chosen, and I'm thrilled."

Mr. Robinson, who will study moral philosophy, says he hopes his experiences abroad will make him a better writer, and prepare him for a career as a journalist.

"[Oxford] is the best place to learn moral philosophy," said Mr. Robinson.

He said that along with using this opportunity as a learning experience, he also hopes to take a step back and enjoy the moment for what it is.

"I hope to sit back and enjoy the experience," he said.

The University senior, who comes from Potomac, Md., is an opinion editor at the The Daily Princetonian student newspaper, where he helped revive the newspaper's policy of publishing unsigned staff editorials on important events and issues.

He has also spent two summers as an intern for Time. He says he would love to return to Time, and work his way up to an opinion columnist for The New Yorker or New York Times. He said he would like to begin reporting before moving on to commentaries, though.

"All the best commentators are those who start as reporters," he said.

Mr. Robinson listed New York Times columnists Nicholas Kristof and David Brooks as two of his favorite commentators.

The Princeton senior said that while Time magazine is easy to read, writing stories for the publication is very difficult.

"Stories have to be very factual and accurate, but readable and enjoyable at the same," he said. "It's hard to do both at once."

The student believes his philosophy studies will support his journalism career by providing a foundation for understanding and explaining opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

John Fleming, professor of English and comparative literature at the University, as well as a Rhodes Scholar, said, "It is clear that the interviewers recognized in David Robinson both the thinker and doer, an undergraduate philosopher, who will, I predict, one day occupy a prominent public role in American journalism."

Mr. Robinson said that competing for the Rhodes Scholarship was the most nerve-racking experience he hopes to ever have in his lifetime.

"I've never been that nervous, and I hope to never be again," he said. The student said he competed with approximately 12 students on both the state level and regional level. At the regional competition, the students were lined up along a stage for the judges to observe, and some were taken aside for additional questions.

"I was one of the only ones not asked any questions," said Mr. Robinson. "I knew I had either impressed them already, or I was out of the running."

But the philosophy major was one of four picked from the region, who will be attending school in England next year.

"I feel very fortunate and very blessed," he said.

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