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John Hollenhorst ReportingA Logan college student was hit by an academic lightning bolt over the weekend. She was chosen as a Rhodes Scholar, perhaps the most prestigious academic honor in the world. Even more remarkable: She never spent a day in school until she was 18!
Lara Anderson is the talk of the USU campus. She was chosen as one of 100 Rhodes Scholars worldwide. That means a full scholarship to work on her physics Ph.D. at Oxford in England.
Lara Anderson, Rhodes Scholar: "Such a long shot. And there are so many qualified applicants that I was totally dazzled, and very pleased."
Not bad for a 22-year old who skipped kindergarten, grade school and high school. Until college, she did all her studies home-schooled by her Mom and Dad.
Lara Anderson, Rhodes Scholar: "My parents were incredibly good and incredibly sneaky. They made me feel that learning was just something I wanted to do. I never knew that I was forced to learn anything."
Prof. Andy Anderson, Lara's Father: "We realized by watching her work and seeing how much dedication she had to her studies that this was going to bear fruit sometime in the future. We're very pleased."
She remembers the very day she decided on a physics career. She was 12 when she attended a star show at Hansen Planetarium written by superstar scientist Stephen Hawking. 10 years later her career goal is to reconcile Quantum Gravity with the Theory of Relativity.
Lara Anderson, Rhodes Scholar: "And it's been a goal of physics since the era of Einstein to try and unify these two theories into one model and give us a deeper understanding of how the universe works. That's what I want to try."
She's the first Rhodes Scholar on this campus in 20 years. But this makes two years in a row for the state of Utah. Gretchen Domek won the honors last year the University of Utah.
Lest you think Anderson is all brains and no moxie, check this out; she has two black belts in Martial Arts. It fits the Rhodes committee criteria: intellectual vigor plus physical vigor adds up to success.
Anderson flew to Houston last week for interviews with the Rhodes selection committee. She's one of 32 American students honored over the weekend.