Isabella Turilli poses in fall foliage.

NSLI-Y Korean Alumna Isabella Turilli was recently awarded the Rhodes Scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and most competitive international scholarship and is awarded to approximately 30 individuals annually. The scholarship selects promising young people from around the world who demonstrate integrity, leadership, character, intellect and a commitment to service to study at the University of Oxford.​

Isabella has recently finished her Bachelors’ degree in Science, Technology, and International Affairs at Georgetown University, and will study international relations at Oxford, with the intention of pursuing a career in global health. Isabella credits her NSLI-Y experience with solidifying her interest in pursuing an international career, which she will continue through the Rhodes scholarship. Isabella completed the NSLI-Y Summer and Academic Year programs in Incheon and Seoul, South Korea. Her passion for Korean began with an interest in Cold War history, which soon morphed into a desire to gain a better understanding of the Korean language – something she was thrilled to further through her NSLI-Y program. “Studying abroad expanded my understanding of what I could study, where I could work, and the impact I could have,” she said.

Isabella has many fond memories from her time on-program, from the sunsets on Haeundae beach to singing with her Korean high school choir. ​Isabella emphasized how much her communication skills, both in English and Korean, improved throughout her NSLI-Y program. Studying a language that was brand new for her encouraged her to appreciate the value of directness, simplicity, and cultural competency. She thought more deeply about what she was saying, but also how the listener would receive her words, reflecting that “cultivating that appreciation has made [her] a more effective and empathetic communicator – extraordinarily important qualities for those interested in international careers.” Isabella still uses the Korean skills she gained as well while keeping up with friends and reading the news in Korean.

For others interested in pursuing scholarships like Rhodes, Isabella encourages applicants to have self-confidence: “There is no one perfect applicant to any scholarship – so there’s no reason to count yourself out!” She encourages applicants to apply to all scholarships and fellowships which help them pursue their academic passions and change the world for the better. ​

Isabella hopes to use her Rhodes Scholarship to gain experience with which she can work towards state cooperation in global health governance. Her passion for global health stems from the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteering as an EMT for Georgetown University’s Emergency Response Medical Service, and various research positions within the health field. She continues her engagement with global health studies through her current role as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. Isabella hopes that these experiences, combined with the knowledge and experience she will gain at Oxford, will help her make a positive contribution in the field of global health governance. ​