UGA's Rhodes Scholars: 1903-99

All Rhodes lead to Oxford for Shapiro

From a March 1999 Georgia Magazine article by Phil Williams and Sharron Hannon

When Beth Shapiro was in the 10th grade, she auditioned for the morning anchor position at the Rome, Ga., TV station. People laughed at her. College grads with broadcast journalism degrees were applying for the job, and everyone doubted Shapiro would get it, even though she already worked at the station as a camera operator.

Shapiro got it, and spent the next two years arriving at the station by 6 a.m., anchoring the morning news, and getting to high school during second period. At the end of the school day, she'd head for the soccer fields or to drama practice before returning to the TV station to write, produce, videotape, and edit stories.

Shapiro also maintained top grades, was president of her school's chapter of the National Honor Society, and graduated as salutatorian. But her crowning honor came this past December when she was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, one of 32 from the United States for 1999. She is UGA's third Rhodes Scholar in four years.

"I'm really honored by this," says Shapiro. "I think it will be important in my career as a scientist, and I hope I can live up to all the opportunities offered me there."

There is Oxford University in England, where she will begin classes for a doctoral degree in evolutionary biology this September. This spring, Shapiro will graduate from UGA with joint bachelor of science and master of science degrees in ecology.

Shapiro is UGA's 18th Rhodes Scholar and follows Scott Hershovitz of Duluth, honored last year, and Robert Sutherland of Dunwoody, named in 1995. She was the only student from Georgia selected this year.

Shapiro attended UGA as a Foundation Fellow-UGA's most prestigious scholarship program for undergraduate students, which provides full tuition, travel-study grants and opportunities to participate in special activities.

Though she came to UGA to study broadcast journalism, Shapiro soon realized she wanted to be a research scientist. With the help of the travel-study grants offered through the Foundation Fellows program, she visited Costa Rica and Panama, and plans an additional trip this spring.

"I'm delighted for Beth because she's a superb student, is always challenging, and is a pleasure to teach," says ecologist John Pickering, Shapiro's major professor. "The Rhodes gives her a wonderful opportunity to develop the community ecology that she's learned at UGA in Oxford's strong program in evolutionary biology."

The challenge is likely to be just another spate of delight for the energetic Shapiro. She has taken Chinese just for fun, has tutored other students, and is active in several honor societies.

"This is ecology's second [Rhodes Scholar] in four years. It's fantastic the quality of students we're now attracting, and it's fun teaching them. We're on a roll," says Pickering.

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