Oscar De Los Santos

Oscar De Los Santos

photo: Facebook/Oscar De Los Santos

Over 882 applicants sought the American Rhodes Scholarship to study at the prestigious University of Oxford in England — and only one Latino received it. That's a pretty remarkable feat, but it's even more incredible for Oscar De Los Santos, the Latino recipient of a 2017 Rhodes scholarship. 

The University of Southern California graduate is the son of undocumented Mexican immigrants. 

De Los Santos' determination and passion made him stand out among the hundreds of applicants. That may be why he's one of only 32 Americans to win the 2017 scholarship.

"I'm the child of Mexican immigrants, an anti-hunger advocate and a former teacher and political organizer," De Los Santos said in an email to the Associated Press. "My degree choices are a way for me to respond from a sense of moral urgency to help marginalized people."

While he's proud of his achievement, De Los Santos is also dismayed that he's the only Latino to be selected.

"I would like to express my disappointment that I was the only Latino Rhodes Scholar selected this year," De Los Santos said in an email to the AP. "I personally know hundreds of talented, deserving young Latinos around the country who would contribute to and benefit tremendously from the Rhodes. I'm disappointed that powerful institutions continue to underestimate and marginalize the talents of people of color."

In 1984, Catherine Sandoval became the first Latina to win the scholarship. Only a handful of Latinos have won since. Two Latinas won in 2016.

Hopefully, De Los Santos' disappointment will encourage more Latinos to apply. That's definitely his aim: The Los Angeles native has also been working as a liaison between communities of color and politicians for quite some time. 

De Los Santos' Facebook page shows that he's worked in politics a while, even campaigning in the past for president Obama.

The city council of Los Angeles also honored him as an emerging leader.

At Oxford, De La Santos plans to earn a master's in public policy and a master of studies in theology with a focus on Christian ethics.

De La Santos is a true example of the great value children of Latino immigrants add to America.