A Chapman University student and Presidential Scholar majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology is a finalist for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Vidal Arroyo ’19 is among a select number of university students across the nation who will advance to final interviews for the award in mid-November. Arroyo, a first-generation college student who commutes by train from south Orange County and attends Chapman with support from a variety of scholarships, credited much of his success to faculty encouragement.

“The professors believed in me more than I did, and that’s been incredible. It’s really a testament to the amazing environment here and the ability for someone to see potential in someone else,” Arroyo said.

He counts Associate Professor Melissa Rowland-Goldsmith, Ph.D., as one of his earliest supporters.

“She saw something in me and consistently motivated me,” he says.

Rowland-Goldsmith never doubted Arroyo’s academic potential, or his passion for cancer research, which has been his focus in both her lab and through a summer research fellowship at Baylor University.

“Vidal is truly one of the most tenacious students I have ever worked with,” she said. “Though he was only a sophomore, he decided to apply for a summer research fellowship so that he could immerse himself full-time in a research project related to cancer. He started working on his application letter during the fall semester and made many revisions to perfect his letter. His letter was one of the most heartfelt I have ever read. Based on Vidal’s academic performance and determination to receive a summer fellowship, it was no surprise when he was accepted to nearly all of the 30 programs to which he applied.”

Each year, only 32 U.S. scholars are selected for a Rhodes Scholarship, which provides students the opportunity to earn a graduate degree at the University of Oxford. If awarded a Rhodes, Arroyo plans to continue his cancer research there.

Arroyo is also a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, 40 of which are given to U.S. students each year for graduate study at a United Kingdom institution in any field.