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Rhodes scholars tied to Bozeman

BOISE – Of the 32 Rhodes scholars announced Sunday from across the U.S., two have even more in common than the intelligence, integrity and leadership potential required for the prestigious award.

Amanda Frickle and Joseph Thiel both live in the same Montana city, Bozeman. And they both have an Idaho connection: Thiel is originally from Idaho and goes to college in Montana, while Frickle is originally from Montana and went to college in Idaho.

“That’s how it worked out,” said Thiel, a senior at Montana State University. “We were surprised, too.”

The two met for the first time several weeks ago after learning they’d both been named finalists for the honor, which comes with a scholarship to Oxford University in England. They got together at a Bozeman coffee shop to discuss strategy for final interviews.

“We just kind of talked through some things,” said Frickle, who graduated from The College of Idaho last spring. “We wanted to know where the other two were coming from. We asked each other some prep questions.”

A third Rhodes scholar finalist from Bozeman also was named, and joined Thiel and Frickle at the coffee shop. But only two scholars are chosen from the six-state region that includes Montana and Idaho.

Frickle’s path through academics and the goals she’s set have always been about learning how to help others – so much so that she almost passed up the chance to become a Rhodes scholar.

“I resisted applying even though my professors told me to do it because I didn’t want to take this opportunity away from somebody else,” said Frickle, 23.

But her professors turned out to be right.

“I’m still in a state of shock, to be perfectly honest,” said Frickle, reached by phone at a Seattle bookstore, where she was searching for Oxford traveler’s guides.

Frickle, originally from Billings, majored in history and political economy, and graduated summa cum laude from The College of Idaho in Caldwell. Much of her academic work has been in gender studies.

At Oxford, she plans to pursue dual masters programs – one in women’s studies and the other possibly in public policy.

Thiel, of Boise, has traveled to Kenya twice to work on engineering projects intended to help the local population.

At Montana State, Thiel is majoring in chemical engineering and liberal studies with a focus on politics, philosophy and economics. He also is a student representative on the Board of Regents of the Montana University System.