New Yorkers Paolo Singer and Isabel Beshar named Rhodes Scholars

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Two New York residents are among the 32 American students who have won prestigious Rhodes scholarships to study for several years at Oxford University in England.

Paolo P. Singer, 22, a senior at Harvard University from the Bronx studying economics, and Isabel E.E. Beshar, 21, a senior at Yale University from Rye, in Westchester County, earned the honors, which were announced Sunday.

Singer, who worked as a White House intern last year, said he's interested in finding solutions to urban poverty — especially in the developing world.

"The number of people living in cities in developing countries will double within 30 to 40 years, and many of them don't have access to water, electricity, toilets and other basic needs," said Singer, who also wants to find solutions for residents of American inner cities facing huge socio-economic gaps.

Singer has participated in poverty and business development programs in South Africa, and in a microfinance program in the urban slums of India. He also led a civics education program in Boston public schools.

At Oxford, he plans to pursue a master's degree combining studies of economics and geography.

Beshar is studying biology and the history of science and medicine. At Oxford, she'll study for a master's degree in medical anthropology.

She has worked as a medical volunteer in Panama and Ecuador, and has published papers on diabetes research and field work in those countries.

The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes.

The winners were selected from 857 applicants endorsed by 327 different colleges and universities. The scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at Oxford.

Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, and leadership potential, among other attributes.

The American students will join an international group of scholars selected from 14 other jurisdictions around the world. Approximately 80 scholars are selected annually.

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