NYUAD Seniors and Alumnas Awarded Prestigious 2023 Rhodes Scholarship

NYU has now produced five of the approximately 100 Rhodes Scholars in the world this year with NYUAD having now produced 22 Rhodes Scholars in the last decade

Press Release

NYU Abu Dhabi seniors, Sara Al Najjar and Monika Mitova, have been selected as two 2023 UAE-based Rhodes Scholars. Together with NYUAD alumna Tatyana Nieves Brown and NYUAD alumna Tatiana Houhou, the winners give NYUAD a total of four out of approximately 100 Rhodes Scholars in the world this year.

The Rhodes Scholarship is a prestigious international award that allows outstanding students to continue their studies at the UK’s University of Oxford. Each year, a class of approximately 100 Scholars is selected from over 60 countries around the world, with NYUAD having now produced 22 Rhodes Scholars in the last decade.

Sara Al Najjar, a UAE national, plans to pursue a nine-month MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy followed by a nine-month MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Oxford University. She aims to write a thesis that would help incorporate UAE’s commitment to combating human trafficking on a global scale, advance international justice, and suppress cross-border crime, with a view to eventually represent the UAE as a diplomat abroad. She has interned at the UAE Embassy in the UK, gaining insights into international affairs and honing her diplomatic skills. 

My time at Oxford University, building on my experience at NYUAD, will enhance my understanding of cross-border crime and foster key skills around conflict mediation, political acumen, and crisis management skills. As a young Emirati with lofty ambitions, I hope my thesis will contribute to the UAE’s efforts in combating human trafficking through multilateral cooperation.


Sara Al Najjar

Monika Mitova will pursue an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University. Mitova aspires to have a career in journalism with a focus on the Middle East and aims to write for renowned international publications. As a current student of Political Science at NYUAD, she has conducted ethnographic work in the Palestinian West Bank. She has also interned at the United Nations Security Council, focusing on Middle Eastern affairs.

I am grateful for this fantastic opportunity as Oxford University’s emphasis on fieldwork aligns perfectly with my career aspirations for context-driven journalism. My journey as a Political Science student at NYUAD was motivated by a purpose to acquire the frameworks for analyzing the intricate political dynamics of the Middle East and the program at Oxford would allow me to specialize further in the field.


Monika Mitova

Tatyana Nieves Brown is a 2022 NYUAD graduate of Puerto Rican and African American origins, and has achieved a BA in Social Research and Public Policy with a concentration in African Studies. While an undergraduate, she co-founded AZIZA, a space in Abu Dhabi where Black feminists from over 30 countries build global solidarity. Nieves Brown aims to complete an MSc in Comparative Social Policy followed by an MSc in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology at University of Oxford. She is currently a Henry Luce Scholar in Taiwan, where she works with the Taipei Fine Arts Museum as an assistant to the 2023 Taipei Biennial.

At Oxford, I aim to train to support Puerto Rico’s quest for sovereignty from its US territory status through culture and policy work. NYUAD was a pathway to study global colonial policies firsthand, and interact with justice movements in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Now I hope to further connect Puerto Rico to these movements through culture spaces to brainstorm our shared political future and policies to build it.


Tatyana Nieves Brown

Tatiana Houhou is the first from NYUAD to be awarded the Scholarship in the Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine (SJLP) region. Currently a Research Assistant in the Magzoub Lab at NYUAD, Lebanese-born Houhou is the third non-UAE Rhodes Scholar to have graduated from the University. She plans to undertake a DPhil in Clinical Medicine at Oxford University to further her work in cancer research. To date, she has utilized nanotechnology to design and synthesize drug delivery systems tailored to target cancer cells and aims to further study genetic tumor profiles in order to strategically pinpoint molecular targets for therapeutics and optimize drug delivery systems for personalized patient needs.

In obtaining the Rhodes Scholarship, I feel ready to take my research to the next level and contribute to the fortification of the Levant’s healthcare systems, especially in times of crisis. I hope to emerge not just as a scientist but as a catalytic force, bridging molecules and minds, genes and geopolitics, aspirations, and actualities. Pursuing a DPhil in Clinical Medicine at Oxford will then align my passion for scientific exploration with my dedication to creating social impact in the region through health and innovation. This will allow me to contribute to bridging the gap between academia and policy to help enact meaningful change.

Tatiana Houhou

Established in 1902, the Rhodes Scholarship is one of the world’s oldest and most recognizable awards for international fellowship and academic study. Applicants are selected through an intensive process including a written application and in-person interviews.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.