Justin Hadad ’21, who was a double major in Applied Physics & Economics, and a Latin minor who co-founded a website on the Latin poet Propertius and did a summer research project that involved the American Academy in Rome, has won a Rhodes Scholarship to fund study at the University of Oxford in England.
Justin was a Morehead-Cain scholar from Dublin, Ohio, and is, remarkably, one of three Carolina students to win Rhodes Scholarships this year, bringing the total number of Rhodes winners at UNC-Chapel Hill to 54. Classics major Henry Spelman ’08 won a Rhodes Scholarship in his senior year, stayed at Oxford to complete the D.Phil., and is now Leventis Research Fellow in Ancient Greek at Oxford. Current Associate Professor of Classics and Director of Graduate Studies Emily Baragwanath is also a Rhodes Scholar.
Justin’s Latin and Classics courses and independent studies at UNC included work on “Greek Tragic Heroines from Aeschylus to Eliot,” Vergil’s Aeneid, Roman Comedy, Petronius, Propertius, and the modern reception of Homer. After studying Propertius with Professor Sharon James, who would write one of his Rhodes recommendations, Justin became a co-founder of The Propertius Project, a website that makes three scholarly editions of the Latin elegist available online at no cost. The project involved complicated work getting the website registered as a non-profit and dealing with issues of copyright. Professor John Miller, UNC PhD ’79 and now Arthur F. and Marian W. Stocker Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia, has called the website a “useful resource for studying Propertius, worth bookmarking.”
Morehead-Cain scholars often receive funding for interesting independent research projects. In October of his junior year, Justin and a friend received funding to travel to Rome to do research that involved using the library of the American Academy of Rome, interviewing scholars there about their research and how they got into Classics, and especially studying the sites of Rome that are mentioned in the Latin poetry of Vergil and Propertius. One of the scholars they interviewed was Brian McPhee, PhD ’20, who at the time held a Rome Prize to do dissertation research at the Academy. Justin’s colleague in this project was Kimathi Muiriri, a History major and fellow Morehead-Cain scholar who also became a familiar face in Murphey Hall; remarkably, Kimathi Muiriri has also won a Rhodes Scholarship this year. Both Justin and Kimathi have told Professor James that perhaps their favorite afternoon was the one they spent reading Propertius in translation at the Villa Lante (the Finnish Institute), which has a famous view of the city. UNC’s third Rhodes winner this year, Takhona Hlatshwako, studied health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, but also did coursework in Classics, and Professor Al Duncan wrote one of her Rhodes recommendations.
Justin Hadad will study for the MPhil in Economics at Oxford. As the announcement from UNC explains, Justin “is now planning to take his problem-solving to the next level as a Rhodes Scholar. He hopes to bring all of his experiences together to help millions of people by using economic resource allocation algorithms to place refugees in environments where they’re best suited to thrive. As he pursues a master’s degree in economics at Oxford University, he will have the opportunity to gain the tools and expertise to do just that from Alex Teytelboym, the deputy director of economics of sustainability in the Oxford Martin School.” Justin explained that “There currently are as many as 20 million refugees in need of homes. Economics provides a framework for putting these refugees in places where they can find a new life and new employment. The No. 1 person working on that algorithm is at Oxford,… and I want to learn under him for as long as I can.”
Besides Henry Spelman, recent UNC Classics students who have studied at Oxford include Rebeka Rust ‘13, Phillip Caprara ‘14, Jordan Maly-Preuss ‘16 who studied Classics in UNC’s Post-Baccalaureate program, Philip Wilson ‘18, and Anna Twiddy ‘19. Wilson won a Lionel Pearson Fellowship from the Society for Classical Studies, Maly-Preuss and Rust won prestigious Ertegun Fellowships (funded initially by the band Led Zeppelin to honor their label head Ahmet Ertegun), and Twiddy is studying English Literature.
The Classics Department congratulates Justin Hadad on his Rhodes and wishes him all the best in his studies at Oxford.