PHILADELPHIA - University of Pennsylvania senior and women’s rowing team member Jenna Hebert was honored as a recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. The 32 nationwide awards were announced on Saturday by the Rhodes Trust. As a Rhodes Scholar, Hebert will have all of her expenses paid for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
A Biological Basis of Behavior major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Hebert (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shady Side Academy) is just the 22nd Rhodes Scholar from the University of Pennsylvania. Even more impressive, she is just the fifth Penn athlete ever to be so honored and the first in more than three decades. Heady numbers, considering the Rhodes Scholarship has existed since 1902.
The last Penn athlete to earn a Rhodes Scholarship was Stephanie Dangel, a women’s track & field letter winner who earned her Rhodes in 1984. Prior to that, the now-famous author John Edgar Wideman was a Rhodes Scholarship recipient in 1963; Wideman played basketball for the Quakers. The other two were Raymond Jack (lacrosse, track & field) in 1923 and William Lingelbach, Jr. (football, soccer, tennis) in 1926.
“I spent about six months working on my application for the Rhodes, but the scholarship had been on my radar since freshman year,” said Hebert. “After a long day of interviews, I waited with the other 11 candidates for nearly 12 hours while the panel deliberated. We had plenty of time to get to know one another, and it was so humbling to be among such talented and intelligent people.
“When the committee was ready to announce the winners, I was fully prepared to offer my congratulations to the winners. When I heard my own name called, I was in complete disbelief. It wasn’t until we sat down to go over logistics that the reality set in that, in less than a year, I will be settling in at Oxford.”
According to a brief biography put out Saturday by the Rhodes Trust, Hebert plans to pursue a Master of Science in Psychiatry at Oxford.
Hebert is not only a member of the Penn women’s rowing program, she is arguably the Quakers’ top rower. A four-year member of the Quakers’ Varsity 8, the senior is a two-time first-team all-region pick by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) as well as a two-time CRCA National Scholar Athlete. In addition, last year Hebert was the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Performer of the Year in women’s rowing.
In the summer of 2013, Hebert rowed at the Under-23 World Championships in Linz, Austria, representing the United States as a member of the Vespers Boat Club quadruple sculls. The U.S. made the grand final and finished fifth overall.
What they are saying about Jenna…
Amy Gutmann, University of Pennsylvania President
“All of us at Penn are extraordinarily proud of Jenna,” said University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann in a statement released Sunday night by the University. “She is making her mark in the world of neuroscience research as one of the most multi-talented young scholars in the United States. As an exceptional young scientist, an extraordinary athlete, and a community volunteer, devoting her time and expertise to help others, she is a role model for students everywhere. Her energy and knowledge are going to have a profound impact on the world. Jenna is truly deserving of this prestigious recognition.”
Grace Calhoun, Penn’s Director of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics
“I was so thrilled to hear the news about Jenna. What an incredible accomplishment for her! Jenna has proven herself to be at the top of her field both in the classroom and also on the water with our women’s rowing program. She represents the very best of Penn, and proves that you don’t have to sacrifice greatness in academics to achieve success in athletics. Jenna joins an incredibly elite list of Penn and Ivy League student-athletes in receiving the Rhodes Scholarship. She is a role model for every student on Penn’s campus, and we are so proud to call her a student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania.”
Wesley Ng, Penn’s Head Coach of Women’s Rowing
“I’m so excited for Jenna and what she can accomplish with this recognition and opportunity. She has demonstrated a wonderful mix of confidence, humility, and responsibility -- all leading towards excellence. I don’t think there is a more meaningful scholarship that recognizes the full scope of what she has done in the classroom and on the water. Here is an example of how understated she is -- on the day before her final Rhodes interview, she asked whether she should start our team workout early or do it after the interview was complete. I thought that was pretty remarkable, given the import of the moment, but it also reveals how much she invests in the different areas of her life.”
Mike Lane, Penn’s former Head Coach of Women’s Rowing
“Jenna is one of the most amazing student-athletes that I have had the pleasure of coaching. Her dedication to training, as well as her focus and drive in the classroom, is truly inspiring. I could not be more proud of her as she receives the Rhodes Scholarship. In my 20-year coaching career, it is rare to have the opportunity to work with someone of her caliber. I wish Jenna continued success.”