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A passion to heal

November 21, 2018

Laila Ujayli, Ohio State's seventh Rhodes Scholar, focuses on international diplomacy and refugee rights

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Laila Ajayli Laila Ujayli

Laila Ujayli, a 2018 graduate of Ohio State, has been named the school’s seventh Rhodes Scholar.

Ujayli graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State with double majors in international relations and English and minors in screenwriting and general business. She’ll continue to explore her passion for international relations at the University of Oxford, where she plans to pursue master’s degrees in refugee and forced migration studies and world literatures.

The native of Dublin, Ohio, had an active undergraduate experience at Ohio State. She was a member of the Honors Collegium and served as a College of Arts and Sciences Peer Mentor. Ujayli also wrote a screenplay, “The Last Librarian in Raqqa,” that was named a finalist in an international short-film competition.

Ujayli said her screenwriting minor was an important part of developing her knowledge of international relations.

“I discovered how significantly the cultural realm influences our understanding of international relations,” she said. “The stories we tell about crises can determine our political will to engage, the types of solutions we pursue and whether we center the voices of victims.” 

Ujayli is serving as a Scoville Peace Fellow in Washington, D.C., where she works at Win Without War advocating for non-violent conflict resolution.

Prior to Ujayli, Ohio State's most recent Rhodes Scholar was Ilhan Dahir in 2015. The first was Shirley Townshend Wing in 1907, who also was awarded the French Medal of Honor for his service in the U.S. Army in World War I. Other recipients include former Ohio State football captain Mike Lanese and educator Jessica Hanzlik, who today mentors Buckeyes in their pursuit of opportunities and scholarships like the Rhodes. Francis Lester Patton (1912-13) and Ferdinand Stone (1929-30) were Ohio State's second and third Rhodes Scholars.

The Ohio State University supports students interested in national fellowship opportunities and prestigious scholarships through the Undergraduate Fellowship Office, located within the University Honors & Scholars Center.