MSU zoology graduate named Rhodes scholar

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A Michigan State Honors College graduate, who just earned a degree in zoology, is now among the academic elite. East Lansing native Clara Lepard was just announced as a Rhodes scholarship winner, an honor she’s still in shock about.

“I’m still half expecting to wake up and all of this would have just been a dream and it’ll be the morning of the interview again.”

That interview she’s glad is over lasted all day in front of numerous committee members. They were looking for leadership, ambition for impact, and commitment for service… and she nailed it, becoming one of 32 people picked out of 866 endorsed students from 299 American universities.

“It was just such an incredible feeling to have wanted something so much for so long and suddenly know it’s real. To have that sense of, I did it, wow. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

Lepard just spent the summer in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda studying lion behavior, but next fall she’s off to the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. She plans to pursue her doctoral degree in carnivore ecology, an important and rare skill needed for the planet to thrive.

“So often they are first ones to fall at the hands of habitat loss and habitat degradation. So there is a sense of urgency to protecting them because not only are they the first to go, but they also have these rippling impacts on everything that lives around them, including us.”

Research she’s been passionate about since she was 12, and now a decade later, living her dream for real.

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