UC Santa Cruz graduate awarded Rhodes Scholarship in most diverse recipient pool in history

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- For the first time, a University of California, Santa Cruz graduate has been selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

She and 31 other Americans were chosen virtually this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic - but that didn't lessen Garima Desai's enthusiasm.

"When they announced it, my name. It's like I almost dreamed it. It was really a dream come true. And after we talked a little bit, I turned off my computer. I opened my door and screamed to my parents, I'm a Rhodes Scholar, I won!" Desai beamed.

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Desai told ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim she'll study economics and the environment with her Oxford scholarship and is already thinking about how she'll be able to use it to help Build a Better Bay Area.

"I do respect that right now, people don't feel comfortable going on transit. But we need to think long term. We may not want to bus and train now but we're going to need it in the future - with the human population increasing how are we going to move all these people. And these are questions that are going to be prevalent after the pandemic."

Garima is from Fremont and is currently a transportation planner with the city of Oakland. The 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholars selected this year are among the most diverse ever and Garima is thrilled to represent as an Asian American woman.

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