Times Staff Writer

A 1981 Cerritos High School graduate who went on to become this year’s top-ranked cadet at the U.S. Military Academy was among the 32 students awarded Rhodes Scholarships on Sunday.

John K. Tien, 22, a senior at West Point majoring in civil engineering, is one of two Californians who won the prestigious scholarship to Oxford University in Great Britain.

Tien said he intends to submerge himself in the humanities at Oxford to round out his military training. He hopes to obtain a degree in philosophy, politics and economics during his two years of study.


The Californian, who expects to spend time in London’s West End, that city’s equivalent of Broadway, said it is important for military officers to appreciate the humanities because of the U.S. military’s “cultural impact on nations throughout the world.”

The other California winner is Hoang Nhu Tran, a Vietnamese refugee, who was second in his class at the U.S. Air Force Academy with a 3.91 grade-point average.

It was not just Tran’s academic achievements, but the obstacles he overcame, that won over the judges, said David Alexander, American secretary of the scholarship trust and president of Pomona College.

“His father was a general officer in the South Vietnam air force,” Alexander said in announcing the awards in Claremont. Tran came to the United States after escaping by boat in 1975.

The resident of Rohnert Park in Northern California is also a free-fall parachutist and glider instructor and was selected as one of Time magazine’s top 100 college juniors in the spring of 1986.

Yale University led the list of schools represented with four winners, followed by Georgetown University with three, Alexander said.

Chosen from 1,143 applicants from 24 colleges and universities in the United States, the winners will join an international group of scholarship winners from 17 other countries at Oxford.

Founded in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a diamond and gold developer, the prestigious awards were among the earliest established for international study. Known for their highly competitive nature, selection is based on intellectual, physical and leadership capabilities as well as an applicant’s character.

Selection committees in the various states interviewed applicants last Wednesday and chose two state nominees. The candidates appeared as finalists before district committees in eight cities throughout the country.

There have been 2,450 American appointments since the scholarship’s first selection in 1903.

The following is a list of the American Rhodes Scholars selected for 1987 and their colleges.

Alexander, Jocelyn H. of Bozeman, Mont., Princeton University.

Barr, Michael S. of Chevy Chase, Md., Yale University.

Bowen, Nina R. of Petersburg, Ark., Georgetown University.

Brashier, Kenneth of Aurora, S.D., University of Missouri-Columbia.

Chin, T. Andrew of Austin, Tex., University of Texas-Austin.

Cleveland, Sarah H. of Birmingham, Ala., Brown University.

Collins, James J. of Nashua, N.H., College of Holy Cross.

Cousens, Elizabeth M. of Tacoma, Wash., University of Puget Sound, also Princeton University.

Dow, Robert M. Jr. of Joliet, Ill., Yale University.

Gaffney, Michael of Fayetteville, N.Y., U.S. Naval Academy.

Gawande, Atul A. of Athens, Ohio, Stanford University.

Lipscomb, William H. of Lynchburg, Va., Duke University.

Lopatin, Andrew Z. of Newton, Mass., Boston University, also Brisk Rabbinical College.

Ludwig, Paul W. of Signal Mountain, Tenn., University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Mathews, Sylvia M. of Hinton, W. Va., Radcliffe College of Harvard University.

McLaughlin, Kathleen L. of Tucson, Ariz., Boston University.

Mehnert, David H. of Roeland Park, Kan., Princeton University.

Merritt, Maria Weston of Franklin, Va., Wake Forest University.

Moore, C. Damon Miguel of Coldwater, Miss., University of Mississippi, also Johns Hopkins Medical School.

Ouweleen, Mark of Rochester, N.Y., Georgetown University.

Pepin, Susan of Tulsa, Okla., Yale University.

Petzen, Barbara of Sharpsburg, Ga., Columbia University.

Radtke, Robert W. of Charlestown, Mass., Columbia University.

Roberts, Donna J. of Verona, Pa., University of Pittsburgh, also Cornell University.

Ruetsche, Laura of Northbrook, Ill., Carleton College.

Scharffs, Brett Gilbert of Salt Lake City, Georgetown University.

Stid, Daniel D. of Mason, Mich., Hope College.

Tien, John K. of Cerritos, Calif., U.S. Military Academy, also University of California, Irvine.

Tran, Hoang Nhu of Rohnert Park, Calif., U.S. Air Force Academy.

Weisberg, Jacob of Chicago, Yale University.

Welch, Kelly Dean of Moran, Kan., Kansas State University.

Woodhouse, Michael V. of Burley, Ida., the College of Idaho.