Penn Senior Abigail Seldin Wins Rhodes Scholarship

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | | 215-573-6604November 24, 2008

PHILADELPHIA –- Abigail Seldin, a student at the University of Pennsylvania and co-curator of an exhibition on the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, has been awarded a 2009 Rhodes Scholarship.

Seldin is a senior in the Department of Anthropology of Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences.

Rhodes Scholars spend two to three years studying at the University of Oxford. Seldin plans to study anthropology at Oxford’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology.

"Penn has provided me with unparalleled opportunities to pursue my passion for anthropology, both at Penn Museum and through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships,” Seldin said. “I am deeply grateful to my family, Penn President Amy Gutmann, Dr. Harriet Joseph at CURF and Dr. Robert Preucel of Penn Museum for their consistent support and encouragement and to the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania for honoring me with our partnership these past two years."

Seldin curated an exhibit, "Fulfilling a Prophecy: The Past and Present of the Lenape in Pennsylvania," with Chief Robert Red Hawk Ruth and Shelley DePaul, both of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania. Intrigued by a tribe believed to have departed the region in the early 19th century, Seldin instead discovered a rich heritage, closely guarded and preserved by descendants of the original native inhabitants of this region remaining in Pennsylvania secretly for the past 200 years. The exhibit opened at Penn Museum in September.

"Having had the pleasure of getting to know Abby Seldin, I thought she was a natural for the Rhodes Scholarship," Gutmann said. “The Lenape exhibit she mounted in our Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is as brilliantly original as is Abby herself. She is not only creative, industrious and forward-looking, she also cares deeply about giving voice to those who history has silenced. We are all so proud of her and so pleased that the Rhodes Scholarship program shares our absolute confidence in her future. This is bound to be a major milestone in a life that will be filled with milestones."

Harriet Joseph, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships at Penn, encouraged Seldin to apply for the scholarship.

“Abby came to me as a freshman applicant to the University Scholars, and we took her because she demonstrated great potential,” Joseph said. “Abby has a knack for the practice of research. She is a spectacularly intelligent young woman, and I am certain that the Rhodes will be only the first step in her career after Penn.”

Seldin is among 32 students from across the nation selected to be Rhodes Scholars.