West Point cadet named Rhodes scholar

 BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (AP) — A 21-year-old West Point cadet from Michigan who says she wants to use her math skills to help attack Detroit’s social problems after leaving the Army is one of 32 Americans named Sunday as Rhodes scholars, who will get the opportunity to spend two to three years at Britain’s Oxford University.

Calla Glavin, who grew up in Birmingham, is a math major at the U.S. Military Academy, where she played goaltender for the Army’s women’s lacrosse team. She also goaltended for Birmingham Seaholm High School, helping her team win a state lacrosse championship her junior year.

Glavin told The Associated Press that she learned of her selection Saturday in Chicago at a meeting of those applying for the prestigious program. Rhodes scholarships are awarded for academics, character and athletic achievement.

She said she felt an “overwhelming sense of gratitude” for the recognition and for the opportunity that it gives her to study in England.

Her first call with the news, she said, was not to her family but rather to her mentor, Army Maj. Keith Benedict, a former Rhodes scholar who taught at West Point and who urged her to apply.

“He was the person who encouraged me to do this. This is a stand-up guy,” Glavin said by phone from an Amtrak train bringing her back to Michigan from Chicago. “I am here talking to you because of the concerted efforts of hundreds of people. I’m not here on my own. I’m so grateful that the stars aligned.”

While a West Point student, Glavin did biophysics research at Harvard University and developed a mathematical model for using nanofibers in helping wounds heal. She also worked on biofuels at Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Glavin said she plans to study applied statistics and public policy at Oxford. Her strong math and science background could point in the direction of a military intelligence assignment afterward.

Once her Army stint is finished, Glavin said she is eager to come back to Detroit and try to apply her skills to improving social conditions.

Jamie Glavin, 49, said his daughter decided back in middle school that she wanted to go to a military academy, then systematically took the steps to prepare for the highly competitive admissions standards. She is the first in her family to follow a military path, he said.

“She always felt that this country has given so much to her that she wanted to give something back,” he said.