Centennial grad is Rhodes Scholar, plans studies in medical anthropology

Yale senior Jarrad Aguirre, a 2005 graduate of Arapahoe High School, learned Sunday he won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pay for two years’ study at Oxford University. The Colorado native is majoring in molecular, cellular and developmental biology and plans to work toward a degree in medical anthropology and another in global health science at Oxford, according to the Yale Daily News.

Aguirre has traveled to Peru and Nepal pursuing his interest in “global health disparities,” and plans to apply to medical school while at Oxford, the Rocky Mountain News reported Monday. His focus on medical anthropology studies how traditional cultures approach illness and medicine differently and then proposes how to use those differences to solve public health problems. For instance, the Rocky’s Sara Burnett wrote, medical anthropologists examine how to take an indigenous Peruvian belief that spirits cause viral infection and figure out how to heal while taking those beliefs into account.

Earlier this year, Aguirre worked at an orphanage and with Tibetan refugees in Nepal and plans to return this summer. While at Yale, he also founded an organization to help Latino students with an interest in math and science pursue those interests in graduate school. He’s working to expand that organization nationwide, with an eye toward encouraging Latino scholars to direct their talents toward fixing social inequities, according to a release on Sunday from the Rhodes Trust [PDF].

Aguirre was the only Coloradan and the only Yale student to win one of the 32 Rhodes Scholarships this year, out of 769 applicants. The award is worth approximately $50,000 for each of two years.

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