Two Kling Fellows receive WashU endorsement for prestigious UK scholarships

Omaer Naeem and Ranen Miao earn pivotal backing for Rhodes and Marshall scholarship competitions

Update, 10/27/23: Omaer Naeem has been selected as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship from District 5!

Two members of the Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Research Fellowship, a program of the Center for the Humanities, have been endorsed by Washington University for prestigious Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. The scholarships fund graduate education in the United Kingdom — Rhodes at Oxford University and Marshall at any British university. Applications are open, but only a select number of candidates are endorsed by the university.

Omaer Naeem (left) and Ranen Miao

Current Kling Fellow Omaer Naeem is expected to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor of arts in global studies (international affairs concentration). Recent Kling Fellow graduate Ranen Miao graduated in May 2023 with degrees in political science; sociology; and women, gender and sexuality studies. Currently, he is working on an initiative to mobilize young LGBTQIA+ voters.

During their two-year terms, Kling Fellows conduct individual humanities-oriented research projects under the supervision of a faculty mentor, culminating in the publication of academic articles based on their work. In his Kling project, Miao conducted qualitative interviews to determine the impacts of racism in intimate relationships on queer men of color. Naeem’s project, which he will complete this academic year, closely interprets an instance of protest performance in 1980s Lahore to assess the history of revolutionary art under the regime of Pakistani dictator Zia-ul Haq. The experience, both say, was integral to their development as scholars. 

“Participating in the Kling Fellowship has cultivated my intellectual curiosity,” said Naeem. “Having an interdisciplinary cohort that I can rely on for my academic and community needs has bolstered my confidence in pursuing my interests and passions, with my own positionality in mind. … The Kling Fellowship’s unique opportunity to conduct rigorous, mentored, interdisciplinary research has empowered me to think outside of the box.”

Miao reported similar support and encouragement from the fellowship: “The opportunity to work on my own research in a structured cohort setting refined my writing, allowed me to be the author of my own published academic article, and pushed me to apply for a graduate program.”

If awarded a scholarship, Naeem will pursue a master’s degree in development studies, with a focus on education in South Asia. Miao will apply for gender studies and public policy programs to refine his theoretical understanding of homophobic and transphobic policymaking in the United States, and then work to reverse the current trend of increasingly antagonistic legislation against the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Applicants will learn their fate by late October. Whatever the outcome of the Rhodes and Marshall decision committees, WashU’s endorsement of their applications is especially meaningful to the young scholars. 

“I'm incredibly grateful to receive the university's support in my pursuit of graduate school in the United Kingdom! I never had the chance to study abroad as an undergraduate, in part because of COVID-19 and in part because of on-campus leadership obligations. The opportunity to pursue graduate scholarships makes studying abroad and gaining transnational perspectives on my scholarship so much more possible,” Miao said.

“WashU’s endorsement has honed my sense of purpose to pursue my proposed plan,” Naeem said. “I am simultaneously humbled and honored to represent WashU, and I will hold my head high irrespective of the outcome of this competition.”


Headline image: Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Library, at Oxford University. Photo by Ben Seymour via Unsplash.