Costella Rhodes Scholar finalist |

Costella Rhodes Scholar finalist

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Ryan Costella is interested in how China can function as a communist society while operating a capitalist economy.

No wonder he was a finalist to be a Rhodes Scholar. While the Carson High graduate, who is a senior captain for the Villanova swim team, wasn’t chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar, it was still an impressive accomplishment for Costella to make it as far in the exhaustive process as he did. Costella was one of 100 finalists out of about 1,000 applicants to become a Rhodes Scholar.

The Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England is the most prestigious post graduate scholarship that a student-athlete can receive. Thirty-two students from across the country are chosen as Rhodes Scholars. Since physical vigor is one of the criteria to become a Rhodes Scholar, student-athletes make up a large number of those who receive the scholarship.

Rhodes Scholars can study at Oxford for two years with the possibility for a third year. All of the students’ expenses are covered by the scholarship. “To get that far is definitely an honor,” Costella said. “It’s the cream of the crop.”

Costella would have studied international relations with an emphasis on U.S.-Chinese relations at Oxford had he been chosen as a Rhodes Scholar. Despite not being chosen as a Rhodes Scholar, Costella still appears to have plenty of options.

He’s also being considered for the U.S. State Department’s Fulbright Scholarship, another prestigious program for students to study abroad. He’ll find out if he’ll receive that scholarship next month.

Costella has also applied for the Bill Gates Scholarship to study at Cambridge University in England. In addition, Costella has a chance to receive an NCAA Post Graduate Scholarship.

A select group of student-athletes are chosen for NCAA Post Graduate Scholarships. Based on the criteria, it figures that Costella has an excellent chance to be chosen.

Cambridge plans to offer a Chinese Studies program and if it goes forward with those plans, Costella said he would like to attend that school. If not, another possibility is to study at Bejing University in China.

A political science and English major with a minor in Chinese, Costella has a 3.76 grade point average that continues to rise. After his studies abroad, Costella hopes to attend an Ivy League law school and eventually would like to serve in public office.

Along the way, he would like to participate in an Ironman Triathlon which entails a 2.4-mile swim , a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon of 26.2 miles.

“They’re all real goals,” Costella said. “I’m going to achieve them. I’m not going to set goals that aren’t achievable for me.”

The process for applying to be a Rhodes Scholar include being interviewed by a panel at Villanova. Costella was one of six Villanova students chosen to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship.

That application process included eight letters of recommendation which couldn’t just be form letters. “They’ve got to have some personal relationship with you,” Costella said. “That was tough.”

Among those who wrote a letter of recommendation for Costella was Villanova president Edmund J. Dobbin.

Costella was one of five Nevada finalists that went through an interview at UNLV and that’s as far as he went. One Nevada finalist was chosen to be among 12 students to be considered for the Rhodes Scholar from this region. Four finalist from eight regions are chosen to be Rhodes Scholars.

While he has a long way to go to become fluent, Costella said he’s learning how to speak Chinese.

“I can speak simple sentences,” he said. “If there are two people talking I can usually understand.

“I’ve always seen China as kind of the next big Super Power that the United States will have to deal with when I’m an adult. I could talk about China all day. I also think the culture is awesome.”

The season is going well so far for the Villanova team and himself, Costella said. Costella’s strongest event is the 1,650-yard freestyle. He said his goal is to qualify for the Big East and U.S. National Championships.

Contact Charles Whisnand at or 881-1214.