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Columbia’s Sydni Scott named 2022 Rhodes Scholar Scott

Sports have taken Columbia track and field senior Sydni Scott places she never imagined. Recently, Scott, a long and triple jumper, was named one of the 32 recipients of the 2022 Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest and most prestigious scholarships in the world. Scott is one of two NCAA student-athletes selected for the prestigious honor this year, along with Army West Point track and field's Hannah Blakey.

"It's obviously an astronomical honor to have been selected," said Scott, the first female student-athlete from Columbia to be named a Rhodes Scholar. "It's just a huge honor to be able to continue the study that I'm so passionate about."

The Unionville, Connecticut, native is still processing the "astronomical honor." A political science major minoring in African American studies, Scott has applied to two programs at Oxford University, where she will begin her graduate studies in October. She will pursue a master's degree in comparative government or a double program in public policy and research public policy.

"I'm excited to learn about the way race, politics and culture all function in an international context," Scott said. "For the comparative government program, I'm interested in how political structures and institutions function in different contexts, and with public policy I'm interested in the implementation of solutions."

Explorations of race and systemic structures have always intrigued Scott, who attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut, and later served as the school's head of diversity. She furthered that interest at Columbia as founder and director of The Amendment Project. This student-led organization stemmed from an independent research study she conducted regarding race-conscious versus race-neutral policies.

TAP's first campaign took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the group worked with city councilors to develop a resolution acknowledging the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. This past summer, they worked with the American Civil Liberties Union and hosted workshops with high school students around the country.

"We mobilize young people to lobby city councils for reparations resolutions," Scott said of TAP's efforts. "And the other side of (TAP) is about fostering conversations and trying to inject more nuance and ingenuity into conversations about reparations."

Scott is not one to shy away from difficult or challenging conversations, and she has sport to thank for that. Sports have been a central part of Scott's identity from a young age. She is the daughter of the late ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott and started playing soccer at age 5. It was during her recruitment for soccer at Columbia that she met her future track coach by chance.

"Something that's been really special about sports, for me, is the way it has been a vehicle to learn," Scott said. "It gave me an outlet to express and explore parts of myself that weren't necessarily socially acceptable in other settings."

Scott competes in the long jump and triple jump for the Lions. In 2019, she boasted two top-10 finishes in her first collegiate meet.

Discipline is one of the most critical life lessons Scott says she'll take with her in the future, having learned from balancing the rigors of academics with athletics in the Ivy League.

"I think there is a really special intersection between women's sports, academics and the pursuit of a career," Scott said. "I'm grateful for this opportunity and for what it has the potential to mean for other students who are interested in pushing whatever boundaries or limits that exist in front of them."

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