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Montana Lutheran Awarded Rhodes Scholarship, Sets Sights for Oxford

12/18/2009 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- There are some 4,500 auxiliary police in New York
City.  One of them, a volunteer on foot patrol in the 26th precinct, is
Raphael Graybill, a 20-year-old student from Great Falls, Mont. -- a
Lutheran and one of 32 Americans named as 2010 recipients of the
prestigious Rhodes Scholarships.
     The scholarships support two-year educational experiences "for
exceptional all-around students" at the University of Oxford in the
United Kingdom.  This year's U.S. winners were selected from 805 nominees
by colleges.
     "It's very humbling," said Graybill in an interview. "It's an
exciting process, and it's nice to see that a lot of hard work in school
pays off."
     Graybill, a political science major at Columbia University, New York
City, learned last month that he will head to Oxford next fall.  He is
considering a course of study in political theory, social anthropology or
theology, and will decide on the topic soon, he said.
     This week he learned he will be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at
Columbia.
     Graybill is a member of Bethel Lutheran Church, Great Falls, and
attends St. Peter Lutheran Church, Manhattan, while he's at school.  He
is the son of Turner Graybill and the Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of
the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
     "I am very proud of him, of course," Crist said. "This is such a
wonderful opportunity for him to broaden his horizons.  He has the gift
of two years with no strings attached."
     Competing for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship is not new for the
family.  Crist said her husband and their daughter, Rhiannon, were both
Rhodes Scholarship finalists. Crist herself was not eligible for
the scholarship when she was a college student because at that time women
could not compete for Rhodes.
     A few days before he was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, Graybill
was awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which provides
financing "for young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in
the United Kingdom," according to the Web site.  Graybill said he decided
to forego the Marshall for the Rhodes because the Marshall scholarship is
awarded to a runner-up if the recipient declines; Rhodes scholarships
have no such provision, he said.
     In the past two years Graybill has lived out his interest in
politics, serving as a Montana delegate to the Democratic National
Convention and working for the Montana Democratic Party on legislative
and statewide elections in 2008.  Last summer he worked with the U.S.
Senate Finance Committee's team working on health legislation.
     For now, Graybill, once Columbia's ski team captain, is working
toward graduation and walking his beat in Morningside Heights/West
Harlem.  Serving as an auxiliary police officer is something Graybill got
into when he saw a recruiting advertisement on a subway in New York and
went to training classes.
     "Young people are interested in community service, giving back and
doing interesting things," he said. "My friends do lots of other things --
mine just happens to be the police department."
     Graybill's job as an auxiliary police officer is to provide a police
presence to deter crime. Other officers actually investigate crimes and
respond to specific complaints, he said. "My (police) supervisor always
said that the best way to give back to the community is to protect it,
and that's what auxiliary police do."
     American politics is his passion, aided by his Lutheran
background. "Faith informs my values and motivates my actions," he
said.  "Faith informs a lot of what I do.  It isn't always something you
wear on your sleeve.  It's certainly ever-present and all-pervasive in
your work."
     Dr. Kathleen Knight, associate professor of political science at
Columbia, was among those who recommended Graybill for the Rhodes
Scholarship.  Graybill had been a student in three of her classes during
his time at Columbia.  He often visited her to talk about his interest in
politics.
     "He is the most outstanding student that I think I'd ever seen.  I
was always surprised to hear about the number of activities he was
involved in.  You seldom find somebody that has that much responsibility
and is thinking that far ahead.  He always worked incredibly hard," she
said in an interview.
     Knight said she often observed him helping other students.  "He is a
particularly generous individual.  He certainly set a new bar for me in
terms of what to expect from students."
     Graybill will have plenty of time to consider his future while in
the United Kingdom.  He said he is considering possibly attending law
school, or maybe divinity school. Eventually, he said, he wants to return
to his native Montana after completing his education. Graybill said he
may be interested in opportunities for public service there.
     "I can hardly think of a better way to live out faith and values
than serving in government or in law.  Public life is certainly a way to
live out what you believe," Graybill said.
---
     Information about Rhodes Scholarships is at
http://www.rhodesscholar.org/on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org
http://www.elca.org/news

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