NewsLocal News


'I was just completely shocked:' Wauwatosa woman becomes Rhodes Scholar

Posted at 8:00 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-28 23:32:06-05

WAUWATOSA — A local woman is one of less than three dozen Americans chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar.

21-year-old Claire Halloran grew up in Wauwatosa. She has always been passionate about science.

"One of my neighbor's first memories of meeting me was I was at a sidewalk square with a notebook counting how many ants were in each square of the sidewalk," Halloran said with a smile. She thinks she was about 6-years-old when it happened.

Halloran has come a long way since counting ants.

She graduated from Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee.

Currently, Halloran is a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, studying materials science and engineering and minoring in energy studies and public policy. She and her family say MIT has always been her dream school.

Most recently Halloran became 1 of 32 Americans awarded with a Rhodes Scholarship. It is an award given to only a few seen as impactful leaders.

Halloran recalled an intense process that included meeting other finalists and interviews from a wide range of professional backgrounds.

"There's this very climactic moment of who is going to get the nomination and I was just completely shocked. I believed in myself so I could believe it but I also had just met all of these incredible people so I could hardly believe it," said Halloran.

The principal at DSHA said in a statement:

"We are so proud of Claire and all that she has accomplished at MIT since graduating from DSHA. She is an exceptional student and a remarkable young woman. We look forward to following her work at Oxford and will support her in any way we are able.”

Halloran's scholarship will cover all of her expenses as she pursues two master's degrees at the University of Oxford in England.

She says it will only boost her mission to tackle climate change when she returns to the United States.

"Climate change is here and we need to act now to curb its worst effects and one of the big things we need to do is transform our energy system so that it runs on carbon-free and low carbon energy source," said Halloran.

"This is affecting our lives and it's only going to get worse if we don't do something to stop it. And this to me is the biggest way that I can use science and engineering to help other people is to do my part to try and avert this crisis," Halloran added.

The 21-year-old learned early on that the STEM world can be difficult if you're not a man, but she persisted. She said keeping supporters and mentors close helped her through the tough times.

"I would say don't let the haters get you down. I think it's really hard, but you should believe in yourself and know that you are just as capable as any man and you could do this," said Halloran.

Halloran will graduate from MIT this spring before she heads to Oxford in the fall. She says her family is already excited to visit her.