UC Irvine's first Rhodes scholar

A UC Irvine alumna has become the first Rhodes Scholar in university history.

Megan Braun, 23, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in history in 2009, said she plans to attend Oxford University in the fall for two years, where she plans to work toward a master's degree in international relations.

"Eventually, I hope to go to law school and become an attorney, either for the State Department or the United Nations," Braun said in a telephone interview from her Coronado home.

Braun was one of 32 U.S. students chosen for the award, and she's the first in the history of UCI to receive the Rhodes Scholarship, Rebecca Harris, director of UCI's Scholarship Opportunities Program, said in a press release.

More often University of California Rhodes Scholarships go to UCLA and UC Berkeley students, Harris said.

As a freshman, Harris said Braun had her sights on the scholarship and proceeded full steam ahead.

"She's labored for this probably more than any other student toward a single goal," Harris said. "She's amazing."

Braun, a former study body president and goalie on the women's water polo team, said UCI helped her grow professionally, academically and athletically.

Athletics and academics are both tenets of the Rhodes Scholarship.

"I loved Irvine," Braun said. "It was an incredible campus, and it's an incredibly underrated university. I chose it primarily to play water polo. I was looking for a place to play competitively, and there weren't too many options. I was really impressed with UC Irvine, and I thought I could be happy there."

In addition to playing water polo, Braun was also a junior member of Phi Beta Kappa, which honors academic achievement.

She is familiar with England, having attended Cambridge University for five weeks over the summer, where she studied the ethical constructs of war and peacemaking for five weeks.

The scholarship is estimated to be worth $50,000, and includes travel to and from England, room and board and, of course, the classes attended.

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