Michael Y. Cheng ’22 Awarded American Rhodes Scholarship

November 23, 2021
Picture of Michael Cheng

History and Mathematics joint concentrator Michael Y. Cheng ’22 has been awarded an American Rhodes Scholarship. At Oxford, Cheng plans to work toward a master of science (M.Sc.) in energy systems and a M.Sc. in political theory.

Asked about his time at Harvard, his senior thesis, and his plans for the future, he said:

Studying History was the single best decision I made at Harvard. History was my coming of age experience; history helped me appreciate the complex, organic nature of societies, mature as a person, build character, and develop intellectual independence and creativity. History opened my eyes to the world, taking me as far as Buenos Aires and Taipei, and gave me the courage to take bold risks, such as walking on to Harvard's varsity rowing team.

There are several people in the History department who I especially want to thank. Lisa McGirr, thank you for spending countless hours with me when I was a confused, insecure first-year, and convincing me to study History, despite all the naysayers who say liberal arts degrees are useless. Charles Maier, thank you for being my first History professor, for taking a wild chance and admitting a random first-year to your upper-level seminar on the triumphs and tragedies of Europe's twentieth century, and for giving me the confidence and one-on-one mentorship to write my first research paper, a 41-page paper exploring 20th century Britain’s relationship with the European Economic Community. Ian Miller, thank you for your kindness and for encouraging me to develop as an interdisciplinary humanistic and technical thinker. Carla Heelan, thank you for your constant energy and encouragement, even when I came to you with ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky ideas for my senior thesis and academic plan of study.

I can't imagine being the person who I am today without the History Department. I don't know what the future holds, but I will always have the History Department engraved in my heart.

Picture of Michael Cheng and Professor Charles Maier
Michael Y. Cheng '22 and Professor Charles Maier.