Two College Seniors Named Rhodes Scholars

Two University of Pennsylvania seniors have been awarded Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study at the University of Oxford. Christopher D’Urso, of Colts Neck, N.J., has been awarded an American Rhodes and Adnan Zikri Jaafar, of Malaysia, has been awarded a Malaysian Rhodes.

“All of us at Penn are enormously proud of Chris and Zikri,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Our newest Rhodes scholars share a passion for community engagement, human rights and social justice. Their work embodies the finest attributes of Penn scholars who are working to make a profound difference in the world. Chris has focused on consumer protection and advocacy as the founder of Penn CASE, which is providing education and support to local consumers in our community. He also has been actively engaged on the Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community. Zikri’s undergraduate research has focused on social-impact bonds. He also has done volunteer work with refugees and has been an ambassador for Penn’s Giving What We Can. Chris and Zikri are extraordinarily talented, engaged and committed individuals who are deeply deserving of this preeminent recognition.”

Considered one of the most prestigious academic honors, the Rhodes is highly competitive. According to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, this year more than 2,500 American students sought endorsements nationwide. The 32 American Rhodes Scholars were then selected from 866 students endorsed by 299 colleges and universities nationwide.

​​​​​​​Christopher D’Urso is pursuing his bachelor’s in international relations with a minor in Hispanic studies, and also a master of public administration with a certificate in politics from the Fels Institute of Government.

In 2015, he founded Penn CASE, or Penn Consumer Assistance Support and Education, which has provided consumer advocacy to more than 1,500 individuals locally. He is also the co-chair of the University Honor Council, the editor-in-chief of the Sigma Iota Rho Journal of International Relations and a member of the President and Provost’s Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community.

At Oxford, D’Urso plans to pursue a master’s in criminology and criminal justice, as well as global governance and diplomacy.

Adnan Zikri Jaafar is enrolled in the Huntsman Program in International Studies in Business offered through Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences and Wharton School. He is majoring in finance, statistics and international studies, with a minor in mathematics, economics and philosophy.

At Penn he has served as a Fox Research and Service Fellow and a Wharton Research Scholar and this summer he conducted research on zakat, the practice of alms-giving in the Islamic faith and on social-impact bonds to assess alternative approaches to improving the impact of zakat distribution in his home country. He volunteers for the PA Refugee Task Force in Philadelphia and Syrian refugee schools in Irbid, Jordan, and is an ambassador for Penn’s Giving What We Can.

At Oxford, Jaafar will pursue a master’s degree in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation, along with a master’s in financial economics.

D’Urso and Jaafar applied for the Rhodes Scholarship with assistance from Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. The 2017 awards bring the number of Penn Rhodes Scholars to 26.

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