On November 4, Harvard senior Brett Rosenberg logged into her email. A message appeared in her inbox from the Rhodes scholarship committee. When she clicked on it, the news that she was one of 12 finalists in the New York region appeared. “I was thrilled,” Rosenberg said. The email contained an invitation to a reception on Park Avenue on the evening of November 18. While the energy at this event was decidedly one of high anxiety, Rosenberg reveled in the congenial atmosphere amongst the finalists. “They’re really incredible people,” Rosenberg observed.
At five o’clock on the 19th, after the conclusion of the interviews, the two winners for the New York region were announced. Rosenberg had been selected as a Rhodes scholar. ”There are now two in Chappaqua,” she said. The honor is also held by former President Bill Clinton.
Her first phone call was to her parents. The next two calls were to her roommates in Cabot House and Mr. Houser, her social studies teacher and coach for four years on the cross country and track teams at Greeley who provided one of the eight required letters of recommendation for the scholarship. “He was definitely one of my mentors and heros at Greeley. I’m a history major. He was definitely a huge influence in that,” she added.
Rosenberg thrived at Greeley; availing herself of the wide array of clubs and courses and exhorted current students to do the same. “There are really great opportunities at Greeley. There’s something for everybody.” She participated in the Jeopardy club and discovered that she enjoyed singing when she landed a part in the senior musical. Rosenberg graduated in 2008 as co-valedictorian.
At Harvard, she sings with the Kuumba choir, a group founded in 1970 by black students seeking a source of inspiration and community during a turbulent era. Rosenberg examined the dichotomy of being a white Jew from Chappaqua in this ensemble and chronicled the experience of singing the national anthem at Fenway Park in her column for the Harvard Crimson. While at Harvard, she is also a stringer for the New York Times.
This fall she conducted man on the street interviews with a Harvard student and several Cambridge residents to assess reaction to the scheduling of Obama’s jobs speech on the same day as a Republican debate.
Rosenberg’s thesis topic is the Special Studies Project, a panel of 108 luminaries convened by Nelson Rockefeller in 1956 to examine the challenges facing the nation. Four members of the group went on to serve in the Kennedy administration. “It’s a really fascinating exercise outside the government right at the beginning of the Cold War.” Rosenberg explained. She unearthed the topic while conducting research for Niall Ferguson, the renowned historian who is currently writing the authorized biography of Henry Kissinger. The topic is particularly intriguing to Rosenberg because of the sharp contrast between its import and its lowly status in the annals of history.
After graduation this spring, Rosenberg is planning to pursue her studies in the field of International Relations at Oxford. She looks forward to reading “The Anglo Files,” by Sarah Lyall and “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh, both congratulatory gifts.