Pocatello resident Kaya Evans is Idaho’s most recent Rhodes Scholarship recipient — one of 32 Americans to receive the award this year. She sits among winners from Harvard, Yale, Columbia and other elite schools.
The 23-year-old attended Pocatello’s Century High School, and obtained a bachelor’s degree in political economy with minors in pre-law, Spanish, environmental science, and anthropology-sociology at The College of Idaho in 2021. She was a two-time captain of the women’s soccer team, and worked on campus as a student ambassador and mentor.
After graduating, she worked as a campaign manager for District 29’s Democratic legislative slate.
Evans will use the prestigious scholarship to pursue a master of philosophy in political theory at the University of Oxford, starting fall 2023. She hopes to return to Idaho to work in grassroots politics after completing the program.
The Rhodes Scholarship funds tuition, fees and airfare, and provides a living stipend for at least two years of study at Oxford. Over 2,500 students applied for the award this year, with 235 finalists.
Evans, her former professors and college mentors spoke to a crowd of over 50 students and supporters at a news conference at The College of Idaho Wednesday.
Dr. Kerry Hunter, a political economy professor at The C of I, said he saw Evans’ potential on her first day of class.
“Kaya is truly one of the most ethical, creative, inclusive, mature and courageous individuals I’ve ever had the privilege of working with,” Hunter said. “She’s also really smart. I can think of no one I would want to entrust more to take on the Rhodes mission.”
At Wednesday’s event, Evans spoke of the journey that inspired her to apply for the scholarship.
After being reluctantly recruited to the college for soccer, Evans said her eyes were opened to what education could do for her. She grew a deep appreciation for asking questions, finding answers and imagining a better world. Through soccer, Evans found meaning in camaraderie and community.
She thanked her family, friends, professors and mentors for aiding her on her path to success.
“It’s actually very important to me that I’m representing The College of Idaho specifically, and Idaho specifically,” Evans said in the C of I’s news release. “There is a tendency to write off states like Idaho and schools like The College of Idaho, who people probably haven’t heard of just because it’s so small. Which is unfortunate because it’s not a reflection of the quality of the institution at all.”