Raveen Kariyawasam and Nicholas Thomas-Lewis: Rhodes Scholars 2022
Two senior citizens from the University of Pennsylvania received Rhodes scholarships for graduate studies at the University of Oxford.
Penn Rhodes 2022 Fellows are Raveen Kariyawasam, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Nicholas Thomas-Lewis, from Kimball, Nebraska.
Mr. Kariyawasam is a double major in Bioengineering with concentrations in Computational Medicine and Medical Devices at the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Wharton School with concentrations in Finance, Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Mr. Thomas-Lewis is a double major in cognitive science with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience, as well as in health and societies with a concentration in public health and a minor in neuroscience, at the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We are very proud of our new Penn Rhodes Fellows who have been chosen for this extraordinary honor and opportunity,” said President Amy Gutmann. “The work that Raveen has done in innovating and accessible healthcare and that Nicholas has done to support the well-being of students during his time at Penn is impressive, and pursuing graduate studies at Oxford will build on on this basis. We can’t wait to see how they impact in the future.
The Rhodes Scholarship is very competitive and is one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world. The scholarships cover all expenses for up to four years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
According to the Rhodes Trust, around 100 Rhodes Scholars will be selected around the world this year, chosen from over 60 countries. Several attended US colleges and universities but are not US citizens and applied through their home countries, including Mr. Kariyawasam in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Thomas-Lewis is one of 32 Rhodes Fellows chosen to represent the United States. According to the Rhodes Trust, this year more than 2,300 US students began the application process, 826 were approved by 247 different colleges and universities, and 235 applicants from 76 colleges and universities reached the final stages of the competition.
Interested in innovation and accessibility of healthcare, Mr. Kariyawasam is involved in several research projects, including his Wharton Distinguished Thesis, which focuses on the optimization of a low-cost electronic medical records system. in Sri Lanka and the Philippines. He has received several research grants, including the Vagelos Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Berkman Opportunity Fund Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Fellowship. At Penn, he’s the editor of Synapse, a student-run health magazine, and vice president of the Phi Sigma Biological Honor Society. He runs a radio show on Penn’s student-run radio station, WQHS, and is a member of the board of directors of the Wharton Undergraduate Healthcare Club. He was also a student ambassador at the Penn Health-Tech Center for Health Devices and Technology. At Oxford, Mr. Kariyawasam plans to earn a doctorate in philosophy.
Dr. Thomas-Lewis’s thesis focuses on the neurocentric dual medicalization of adolescence and drug addiction and its impact on stigma and agency in adolescent drug addicts. He is a mentor who supports the development of literacy and emotional well-being in elementary schools in West Philadelphia through his work with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Mr. Thomas-Lewis is the captain of the Penn College Incentive Team. He is a former speech captain of the Penn Speech and Debate club. Mr. Thomas-Lewis also serves as a campus guide for the Kite and Key Society, is a member of the Penny Loafers a cappella group, and is co-chair of the Dean of Admissions Advisory Council. At Oxford, Mr. Thomas-Lewis plans to pursue a master’s degree in social intervention and evidence-based policy evaluation and medical anthropology.
Mr. Kariyawasam and Mr. Thomas-Lewis applied for the Rhodes Fellowship with assistance from the Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.