2006 SHS alumnus wins Rhodes Scholarship—the 4th grad to win in 10 years

December 15, 2009 — by Saniha Shankar and Christine Tseng

Henry Barmeier will be studying at Oxford University for the next two years.

Henry Barmeier, a senior at Princeton University and 2006 SHS alumnus, was recently named one of the 32 Rhodes Scholars in the U.S. for this year. Barmeier becomes the fourth Saratoga High graduate to be honored as a Rhodes Scholar, joining the ranks of former honorees Ankur Luther (Class of ’99), who went to UC Berkeley, Betsy Masiello (Class of ’99), who went to Wellesley and Chelsea Purvis, (Class of ’01) who is currently attending Yale Law School.

“It is nothing short of remarkable that a school as small as Saratoga High School that has only been around for 50 years boasts four Rhodes Scholars,” said assistant principal Brian Safine.

The Rhodes Scholarship is funded by the estate of Cecil Rhodes, a wealthy South African businessman who died in 1902, to bring exceptional students from across the world to study at Oxford University.

Previous well-known Rhodes Scholars include former president Bill Clinton, former senator Bill Bradley and ABC commentator George Stephanopolous.

Barmeier is majoring in public food and agriculture policy and has minors in environmental studies and Spanish. He plans to continue his studies at Oxford University, where he will spend the next two years.

“I get more excited about studying for two years at Oxford every time I talk with people who have been there,” said Barmeier. “I expect the academics to be superb, but even more importantly, I expect to get a lot out of spending time with the incredibly diverse, talented and ambitious Rhodes scholars and other Oxford graduate and undergraduate students from around the world.”

Even as a high school student Barmeier had a busy schedule, participating in everything from drama to sports. Besides being the valedictorian of his class, he was editor-in-chief his senior year of The Falcon, made varsity cross-country, was part of Senior Video and Diversity Task Force and held a lead role in drama. He also played nationally competitive roller hockey, though not in SHS.

“He [Barmeier] is a really strong character with good ethics. He looks at not only what is fair and honest when it comes to his individual perspective on life but also when it comes to larger global issues, ” said Safine. He called Barmeier the kind of person “who is capable of being president.”

He continued his involvement in school activities in Princeton and is currently part of the Greening Dining Committee, Outdoor Action Program, Pace Center Breakout and Slow Food Princeton. He is also on the Princeton 2010 Class Day Committee.

With so many activities, it is a wonder how he manages to finish everything. The secret? Two key words that students have heard again and again: time management.

“Time management is crucial, and you really can’t do everything,” said Barmeier. “Some pretty important things, like keeping our room tidy and following the news can fall off my radar during busy stretches.”

He said the Rhodes Scholarship is an immense honor.

“Throughout the application process, I really didn’t let myself seriously consider the fact that I might actually win a Rhodes because of the extraordinary improbability that it would happen,” Barmeier said. “In the meantime, however, I feel extremely grateful for having wonderful mentors and opportunities both at Saratoga High and at Princeton.”