IGS alumna Varsha Sarveshwar receives prestigious Rhodes Scholarship

November 22, 2021

BERKELEY, CA – UC Berkeley graduate Varsha Sarveshwar ('20) has been named a 2022 Rhodes Scholar-Elect. The scholarship grants students the opportunity to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford. Sarveshwar was a 2020-21 fellow in the Matsui Center's John Gardner Public Service Fellowship program, and a recipient of the Percy Undergraduate Grant for Public Affairs Research in 2020. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Public Policy and History in spring 2020.

As a UC Berkeley undergraduate student, Sarveshwar was active in civic life on campus and aspired to a lifelong career effecting meaningful change in California through politics and policy. She served as president of Cal Berkeley Democrats, and in spring 2019, she was elected External Affairs Vice President of the Associated Students of the University of California, UC Berkeley’s student government. Later that year, she was elected President of the UC Student Association, representing more than 275,000 students. In these roles, Sarveshwar strengthened the relationship between students and the city, co-authored and passed an initiative renewing UC Berkeley students’ free local transit access, co-hosted a hearing of the Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate, and worked with UC leaders and state lawmakers to address students’ needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarveshwar also engaged in politics beyond the Berkeley campus. In 2018 she managed Rigel Robinson’s campaign for Berkeley City Council; Robinson received 56% percent of the vote in Berkeley’s student-supermajority district and became the youngest councilmember in city history. Sarveshwar later became an alternate member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, a delegate to the California Democratic Party convention, and a political staffer on Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s campaign.

In addition to her extensive political activities, Sarveshwar maintained her focus on academics. She worked on campus as a research apprentice, a political science tutor, and an undergraduate student mentor. In 2020, Sarveshwar was a recipient of the Political Science Departmental Citation, and her senior political science honors thesis examining the impacts of increased ideological diversity on the California state legislature since 2001 was published in Berkeley's undegraduate research journal (Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, 35:1, 2021). She was also a recipient of the 2019 Travers Scholarship in Ethics and Politics and the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service.