Hunter College senior Devashish Basnet ’22 has been named a 2022 Rhodes Scholar. He is only the second student in the school’s history to receive a Rhodes, one of the world’s most selective and prestigious awards for international post-graduate study, offering scholarships to 100 students globally, just a third of them from the U.S.
Basnet, who was born in Kathmandu, Nepal, and lives on Long Island, is a Political Science major with an International Relations concentration and minors in Asian American Studies, Music, and Human Rights at Roosevelt House, where he also earned a Certificate in Public Policy. He came to this country at age six, not speaking English, as a self-described “political asylee” who “traded mountains for skyscrapers.”
Deeply involved in campus leadership activities, Basnet currently serves as President of Hunter’s Undergraduate Student Government.
“We are so deeply proud of Dave’s extraordinary accomplishment,” said Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab, “and join the entire campus in congratulating him on winning a Rhodes Scholarship. This year, he is the New York south’s only Rhodes honoree from a public university. His achievement is a testament to Hunter’s commitment to opportunity and student success, and of course a huge acknowledgment of Dave’s own tireless work on campus: as a scholar, a student leader, a human rights activist, and a musician and singer who has performed at venues from Hunter’s own Lang Theater to Carnegie Hall.
“Throughout his college career, Dave has been a constant presence on campus, missing only the days he served unselfishly as a proxy for his parents in immigration court. This remarkable young scholar and student leader brilliantly represents what Hunter College and CUNY uniquely offer to students who look to us for both opportunity and inspiration: full access to the American dream. We offer Dave our heartfelt congratulations—or as they say in his native country, ‘Badhai Cha.’”
“CUNY is thrilled to celebrate this most prestigious of academic honors, the Rhodes Scholarship, for a student who so appropriately embodies the principles on which this University was founded,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Dave has enthusiastically embraced the many opportunities available to him at CUNY to advance his development as a scholar, an activist and an artist. As a DACA recipient, he has shown the courage to pursue his ambitions in the face of uncertainty. He has held himself to an unwavering standard of excellence and, equally commendable, dedicated himself to helping others along the way. Dave epitomizes the ethos of a CUNY student who has intertwined his own goals for personal growth with a commitment to making our community, our society, and our world more responsive to the needs of the many. CUNY congratulates him on this richly deserved and exceptional honor.”
Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two to three years of postgraduate study at the University of Oxford in England. Basnet plans to pursue a Masters degree in Public Policy as well as advanced studies in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. As Basnet explains: “Being Sherpa beyond the Himalayas” inspires “the centuries-old responsibility to facilitate safe migration—regardless of landscape.”
Throughout his college career, Basnet has been active in community service. Serving currently as an executive research intern at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, he previously served, among other commitments, as a research assistant for the Fund for Peace, a Human Rights Fellow at the Justice Centre Hong Kong, a Democracy Program Teaching Fellow at Generation Citizen in New York, and a Shelter Intake Specialist for the International Rescue Committee.
Enrolled in the Thomas Hunter Honors Program, Basnet is also a Jeanette K. Watson Fellow, a Mellon Foundation Public Humanities Scholar, a Hunter College Roosevelt Scholar, and a Phyllis L. Kosoff International Human Rights Scholar. At various times during his Hunter career, he has also been selected as an Eva Kasten Grove Fellow at Roosevelt House and a Fellow at CUNY’s New York Immigration Coalition. He won the 2021 Nan Shaw Prize for the best year’s best capstone thesis in the Roosevelt House Public Policy program.
In addition to his current work in Undergraduate Student Government, he serves as a Delegate to the University Student Senate at CUNY, as a board member of the Roosevelt House Student Advisory Board, as a lead student organizer for the Student/Farmworker Alliance in Immokalee, Florida, and as a delegate for Model UN at Hunter. He also founded “Project Nepal,” an international outreach program that connects American students with pupils at a Nepalese village school and encourages both correspondence and sponsorship.
A gifted musician and singer who somehow finds time to perform on stage, Dave is scheduled to appear as “The Count” in a December production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro for the Hunter College Opera Theatre Project.
This is the second Rhodes Scholarship awarded to a Hunter College student in four years, the first going to Thamara Jean, in 2018. Both students worked closely with Hunter’s Ruth & Harold Newman Office of Prestigious Scholarships & Fellowships, funded by privately raised money to support students in their applications to nationally competitive scholarships for work or study in the U.S. and abroad. It was created by President Raab to help level the playing field for Hunter students and provide them with opportunities and support available at private universities.