2022 Rhodes Scholarship Nominee, Sunjay Letchuman ’22

Sunjay Letchuman ’22

Sunjay Letchuman ‘22, a business honors major from Shreveport, Louisiana, has been selected as the Texas A&M University nominee for the 2022 Rhodes Scholarship. The primary qualification for a successful candidate is an intellectual distinction as well as “great personal energy and ambition for impact.” Through the years, Rhodes Scholars have pursued studies in all of the varied fields available at the University of Oxford, where they are elected for two years of study with the possible renewal of a third year. The LAUNCH office congratulates Sunjay for his nomination and recognizes the hard work that is required of this scholarship. 

Sunjay attended Caddo Magnet High School, then decided to continue his education at Texas A&M due to his love for learning and the ability to conduct cutting-edge academic research. If he is awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, he plans to obtain a Master of Public Policy degree (MPP) and a Master of Science (MSc) in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford. He would then attend the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai after his schooling at Oxford and fulfill his lifelong goal of becoming a physician-policymaker. When asked why he wants to receive a Rhodes Scholarship, he said, “The scholarship would allow me to immerse myself in a learning environment like no other. The University of Oxford cultivates leaders, many of whom have made substantial impacts in health policy.” 

At Texas A&M, Sunjay is a University Scholar, University Honors student, Maroon Coat, and serves in the Academy of Undergraduate Researchers Across Texas. This past summer he had the opportunity to intern in the U.S. Senate with the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. As a health policy intern, he assisted the Committee with policy research in preparation for witness testimony from administration officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci. Sunjay’s ultimate goal is to “bridge the divide between the experiences of real patients and the evidence policymakers use when drafting health policy.” He currently conducts research under Dr. Leonard Berry, the University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Regents Professor, and most cited professor at Texas A&M. The pair recently co-authored a paper titled “The High Stakes of Outsourcing in Healthcare.” Their paper was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings online ahead of print in the November issue! Sunjay is also leading a project centered on the community benefits provided by nonprofit hospitals and is researching how policy can change to strengthen the community benefit standard that the IRS uses to grant tax-exempt status to nonprofit hospitals. 

We also asked Sunjay to discuss the mentors, friends, family, etc. who have helped him throughout his time at Texas A&M and towards his Rhodes application. Sunjay made sure to emphasize that his accomplishments reflect the investment that Texas A&M faculty members have made in him. He said, “My education would be vastly different and much less enriching without the incredibly kind and generous mentors and professors I have had throughout college. Important to note are Dr. Sumana Datta, Dr. Leonard Berry, Dr. Jennifer Dulin, and Tyson Voelkel. Dr. Datta has served as my academic mentor since my first semester of college, and every major decision I have made in college has gone through her. She is also the first professor to encourage me to think about a career in health policy. Dr. Berry has gone out of his way to mentor me and improve my understanding of our healthcare system. Dr. Berry first formally taught me in the Spring of 2020 in his class on improving healthcare service, and we quickly became friends. We have become academic writing partners and have published two papers together, with several more publications on the way. He is such a special person in my life, and working with Dr. Berry has been the greatest honor I have had during my time in college. Dr. Dulin has also been a close mentor of mine since my first semester. I work in Dr. Dulin’s biomedical research lab where we study spinal cord injury. Our lab uses stem cells to try to restore locomotor function after spinal cord injury. My research under Dr. Dulin’s guidance has kept my love for science and medicine close. Tyson Voelkel is the President and CEO of the Texas A&M Foundation, and he has served as a personal mentor since my sophomore year when I joined an organization called Maroon Coats. Tyson has created opportunities for me that I didn’t know existed, and he has been a constant supporter of my work. He makes time to help shape me into a more effective leader, and he lives by the principle of helping others whenever you have the opportunity. These four mentors (and four others) all wrote letters of recommendation for my Rhodes application, and they all lead by example. My family as well as my best friend Robert Brown have been huge supporters of all of my endeavors. My lovely parents care so much about me and my three brothers, and I am indebted to them for their constant love and encouragement.” 

We are so proud of Sunjay and all of his accomplishments and wish him luck with his future endeavors. We thank him for taking the time to speak with us! 

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally competitive awards with the support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.