Jin Kyu Park, a 22-year-old student at Harvard University, recently made history after becoming the first-ever recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to win the Rhodes Scholarship.

NBC News reported Wednesday that Park was awarded the prestigious scholarship, which will allow him to continue his schooling next year at the University of Oxford, over the weekend.


The scholarship provides recipients with the financial assistance needed to pursue a degree at Oxford for up to three years.

Park, who was born in South Korea and has grown up in the U.S. since his arrival at age 7, is the first recipient of the Obama-era DACA program to win the award, NBC reported.

"When they first announced it, it was really — I felt nothing but like an immense gratitude," Park told NBC News. "Now that gratitude has given way to kind of a desire to use this opportunity to make sure I lift up others in the community. There's no way something like this belongs to just one person." 

Park had previously applied for the award last year, but at the time of his application, recipients of DACA were reportedly not yet eligible to receive the award.

The American secretary of the Rhodes Trust, Elliot Gerson, told the news outlet that although Park was “extraordinarily qualified” for the scholarship, the group was unable to change their eligibility policies at the time he applied last year.

However, Gerson said the group’s trustees later agreed to changed their policies to include recipients of the DACA program the following year so students like Park could be eligible to apply.

“In looking for those Americans with extraordinary talent, a combination of academic excellence with character leadership and ambition to serve others, we didn’t want to exclude Dreamers who are, in our opinion, such important Americans and who offer so much to this country and to the world,” Gerson said. 

Park said he was “shocked” and thankful for the reward but also added that he thinks it’s “a testament to if you give immigrants in America an opportunity, if you allow us to live fully in our truth and see us totally in our personhood, this is the kind of thing that can happen.”