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USU Grad Danielle Babbel Among Rhodes Scholar Finalists

Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

Dani Babbel

Utah State University.jpg] Caption: Utah State University student Danielle (Dani) Babbel received the honor of being selected as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship.

Utah State University student Danielle (Dani) Babbel received the honor of being selected as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. Babbel traveled to Colorado Nov. 19 and 20 to interview for one of 32 Rhodes Scholarships in the nation. Although she didn’t receive the scholarship, Babbel has a bright future ahead.

“We are so proud of Dani and her many accomplishments,” said USU President Stan L. Albrecht. “She is an exceptional student who exemplifies the highest ideals of academic scholarship as well as a commitment to global citizenship.”

Babbel graduated with Honors from USU in 2010 with degrees in anthropology and geography, minors in Spanish and chemistry and completed pre-health requirements for medical studies. She served as the College of Natural Resource’s valedictorian at commencement.
Babbel plans to become a physician, a decision that came mid-way through her undergraduate career. She believes her non-traditional route to medical school will prepare her to practice medicine globally. The holistic focus of her degrees in anthropology and geography will help her consider external variables in human cultural and biological environments. Her background in social sciences and public health will offer her a unique perspective among physicians.
“With Spanish fluency, coupled with a love for the culture, I hope to work with Latin American populations both within and outside the United States,” Babbel said. “Through the combination of my undergraduate education, medical training and studies under the Global Health Science program, I will promote illness prevention at an international level.”
Babbel spent her career at Utah State doing community service. In her senior year, she received the Bill E. Robins Memorial Award, the university’s highest student honor, for her record of service. In her junior year, the Morris K. Udall Foundation awarded her an Honorable Mention, a national recognition of her commitment to people and the environment.

As a student, Babbel combined research with service. Her senior Honors Thesis, “Perspectives on the Interpreting Program at Logan Regional Hospital and Access to Health Care Throughout the Spanish-Speaking Community of Cache Valley” (, was reviewed by Logan physician Dr. Steve Young. Young noted that Babbel “shares a passion for providing quality health care and reducing language barriers for members of the Hispanic community, as well as for every other patient.” Young found that Babbel’s ability to translate real-life issues into good published work was a strong point for her and noted that, while at the hospital, Babbel was a reliable and accurate interpreter.

To finish her thesis, Babbel conducted research among migrant workers in the United States and Mexico, spending one summer interning at a hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico. While there, she studied the effects of transnational migration on land use and gender issues in agricultural relations of production in rural communities with USU assistant professor of Geography Claudia Radel.

During her time at the university Babbel co-created “Aggies for Africa,” a program designed to spread awareness of African issues, and also organized a variety of fundraising events such as a highly successful shoe drive. The non-profit Ungana Foundation grew out of Aggies for Africa, and Babbel and the other founders traveled to Rwanda in 2008 to carry out an investigation on the region’s international organizations and agricultural cooperatives.

In the face of an impending budget crisis at USU, Babbel created the group “Save Higher Education in Utah.” The Facebook-based organization mobilized its more than 5,000 members across the state to participate in the political process through events such as a mass rally at the state capitol.
“Dani is one of the most stellar students I’ve known in my 30-year career in higher education,” said Joyce Kinkead, USU associate vice president for research and professor of English. “She has superior research skills, stellar academic performance, excellent athletic ability and, most importantly, a deep interest in humanity and its well-being.”
Babbel served as an undergraduate teaching fellow and lab assistant for several anthropology courses at the university, all while conducting research as an Undergraduate Research Fellow. Other volunteer positions gave her further experience as an instructor, including mentoring English-as-a-second-language students at Hillcrest Elementary, assisting in language courses for adults at the English Language Center and tutoring in general chemistry and biology. Her ability to speak Spanish has presented her with many volunteer experiences as an interpreter at parent-teacher conferences at Mount Logan Middle School.

Throughout her USU career Babbel was the recipient of several honors including being named the College of Natural Resources Scholar of the Year in 2010, the College of Natural Resources Undergraduate Researcher of the Year in 2010, the nominee for College of HASS valedictorian in 2010 and Outstanding Anthropology Senior in 2009. Babbel also received several scholarships during her USU tenure, including a Presidential scholarship from 2005-2010, an Undergraduate Research fellowship from 2005-2010, a Helen Cannon Honors scholarship in 2009, a Lillywhite scholarship in 2007 and 2009, an Anthropology and a Hansen scholarship in 2008, a Gordon N. and Delores M. Keller scholarship in 2006 and a Quinney scholarship in 2005.
In her free time Babbel enjoys rock climbing, long-distance running, mountaineering, scuba diving, salsa and modern dance, and drawing.
“I find Dani to be singularly impressive, and I’m proud she graduated with Honors from Utah State University,” said USU Honors Director Christie Fox. “I have no doubt she will continue to impress in her academic and professional career and will make a difference in the lives of countless others.”
Utah State is known for its strength in academics. Lara Anderson received Rhodes Scholarship in 2004 to study physics. Previous honorees include James Butcher, 1982; William McEwan, 1938; George Pirahian, 1937; G. Fred Somers, 1936; Karl Young, 1926; and James Morris Christensen, 1921.
Christie Fox, 435-797-3940 (office), 435-764-4722 (cell),

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