The Ohio State University senior Henry Wu has been named a 2020 Rhodes Scholar. The Rhodes Scholarship was founded in 1902, and supports graduate study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Thirty-two scholarships are awarded annually to outstanding seniors and recent graduates across the United States. The Rhodes Trust selected Henry for his commitment to fighting human trafficking and researching migration patterns and policies impacting the involuntary movement of peoples.
As a university honors student, Eminence Fellow, and recipient of the Jeanne Bonnet McCoy Preeminent Scholarship, Wu is pursuing a double major in philosophy and political science. Wu has achieved a stellar academic record as he has studied the legal and social contexts of migration and philosophical notions of freedom and slavery.
During his first year at Ohio State, Wu heard from nonprofit professionals about the issue of human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery happening just miles away from the Ohio State campus. "I am extremely fortunate that I was not forcibly separated from my parents when we immigrated to the United States," says Wu, whose family emigrated from China. "I now understand how restrictive immigration policies can put migrants at greater risk of exploitation and trafficking in the United States," Wu continues, "[and] I will fight for a world where the dignity of the most vulnerable is protected just as my own."
As part of the Eminence Fellows program, Wu co-founded Enlighten, which mobilizes students to confront human trafficking and create a culture of compassion through on-campus awareness and direct community engagement. Wu has also established connections with anti-trafficking student leaders at Boston College, Penn State University, SUNY Albany, and Emory University. Recently, Wu created a partnership with the Ohio State Moritz College of Law to provide mentorship events for minors who have been trafficked, including a trauma-informed self-defense course at a local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy to help them gain self-confidence. While Enlighten grew from his Eminence cohort's service project, Wu has pursued high-level internships at various NGOs such as Free the Slaves and The Human Trafficking Legal Center. Additionally, Wu volunteers at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, where he helps survivors of human trafficking overcome criminal record-based barriers.
As a Rhodes Scholar, Wu plans to pursue Master of Science (MSc) degrees in migration studies and evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation. This multidisciplinary course of study will enable Wu to examine the ways in which policy choices, including immigration policies, can limit or expand freedom. After earning these degrees at Oxford, Wu will return to the United States to attend law school so that he may develop the practical skills necessary for a career in international law and policy. As a Rhodes Scholar, Wu will utilize his experiences studying in the U.K. to justify multilateral responses to human trafficking.
Wu is Ohio State's eighth Rhodes Scholar; the university's last recipient was Laila Ujayli just this previous year in 2019. This is the first time in Ohio State's history in which students have been named Rhodes Scholars in consecutive years. Ohio State University students interested in pursuing the Rhodes Scholarship or other national fellowship opportunities should contact the Undergraduate Fellowship Office located within the University Honors & Scholars Center, fellowships.osu.edu. More information on the Rhodes Scholarship can be found through the Rhodes Trust, rhodesscholar.org.