A Claremont McKenna College senior has become the school’s first female Rhodes Scholar, officials announced Tuesday.

Sarah Chen, an Anchorage, Alaska, native who majors in philosophy, politics and economics and international relations, is the school’s third Rhodes Scholar and the first in 28 years.

She is studying the emerging discipline of strategic war gaming — specifically, how to build better war games meant for educating policy makers and surveying the public on technology and cyberspace issues.

“It felt unreal,” Chen said about learning of the honor on Saturday night. “Now it’s just starting to feel real, and I am incredibly excited!”

Chen described the atmosphere at the L.A. County liberal arts college as “friendly and collaborative,” adding that she relied on that dynamic in her interviews with the Rhodes Selection Committee.

“The entire CMC community is thrilled with Sarah becoming a Rhodes Scholar. She is an exemplary representative of our outstanding students. We are so proud of her,” Claremont McKenna College President Hiram Chodosh said.

“Sarah applies her intellectual brilliance through a profound commitment to improve the human condition. She has achieved distinction in everything she does and will take the fullest advantage of the opportunities at Oxford.”

Chen will head to the University of Oxford in England to begin her graduate studies in October. She plans to read for the MSc in Social Science of the Internet, followed by the MSc in Social Data Science, both with the Oxford Internet Institute “to continue developing my research design and social data science skills,” she said.

Each year, the Rhodes Trust selects 32 Americans and dozens of others from around the globe for graduate study at the University of Oxford. More than 2,300 students applied this year for the coveted scholarship.

Chen is the only student selected from a college or university in Southern California — and one of three in California, with the other two from Stanford University and UC Berkeley.

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