Former Fairbanks resident named Rhodes scholar

Posted: Monday, December 11, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A former Fairbanks resident was among 32 top-ranking American students chosen as Rhodes Scholars over the weekend.

Carl Tape became the 14th Alaskan since 1963 to earn one of the highest academic honors in the world. The 21-year-old Tape will be spending the next few years studying seismology at Oxford University in England.

Tape's honor also gives Alaska back-to-back Rhodes winners. Former Fairbanks resident and Yale University graduate Rachel Kleinfeld was among the chosen few last year.

Six Alaskans have become Rhodes scholars over the past half-dozen years. That includes two people from the state in 1995.

''My colleagues have been kidding me that they're going to start drug-testing Alaskan candidates,'' said Mark Helmericks, Alaska Rhodes committee secretary and the state's 1982 Rhodes scholar.

''Seriously, we're doing very well,'' Helmericks told the Anchorage Daily News. ''Per capita, no other state compares.''

The winners were selected by eight regional committees from 950 applicants who were endorsed by 327 colleges and universities around the nation.

Tape will graduate this spring from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., with a double major in geology and physics. He graduated from West Valley High School in Fairbanks, where he was president of the National Honor Society and captain of his cross-country, soccer and track-and-field teams.

''What made me apply (for the Rhodes) was thinking about what I wanted to do next year,'' Tape told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''I knew I wanted to do something with geophysics to help me focus my decision what to study in graduate school but I wasn't sure what.

''A professor of mine and my dad (Walt, a mathematician at the University of Alaska Fairbanks) said, 'Why don't you apply for one of these big scholarships?'''

Tape has received a number of academic honors at Carleton and already has been published in professional journals while continuing to compete in track and field and as captain of the varsity soccer team.

His recommending professor at Carleton wrote the Rhodes selection committee that Carl's faculty adviser and mentors ''freely admit that Carl is 'tutoring' them on the 'finer mathematical considerations' '' in research that the student is conducting.

Another aspect of Oxford life that Tape is looking forward to is soccer, his biggest passion aside from academics.

He was a forward and midfielder at Carleton for four years. He plans to play at Oxford, which he said has a glorified intramural program, as well as watch as much professional soccer as he can.

''I'm going to get a season ticket to whatever premier league team is the closest,'' Tape said.

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