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    What is a Rhodes Scholar?

    March 31, 2021 | Staff Writers

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    Many people dream of meeting the highest academic standards. Other than meaningful employment, higher education levels improve your status in society, whether it’s obtaining a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or even Ph.D. A bachelor’s degree is one of the first degrees you can get; however, if you want to advance your skills as a professional, you usually have to pursue a master’s or Ph.D. level degree. Degrees higher than the bachelor’s degree are referred to as post-graduate degrees.

    While it is beneficial, attaining a postgraduate degree can be challenging. Completing a postgraduate degree program requires substantial financial and time investments. If you are dedicated to completing the degree, you may have time to study but lack the financial resources to take you through the program. Many organizations offer financial assistance to deserving students who want to advance their studies. One of these is the Rhodes scholarship.

    A Rhodes Scholar is a beneficiary of the Rhodes scholarship. This program gives outstanding students from different parts of the world an opportunity to study at the University of Oxford. The Rhodes scholarship program targets post-graduate students with distinction in academics. Being a Rhodes Scholar is a great honor since you get to study in one of the best academic institutions in the world. To understand more about the Rhodes scholarship and what it means to be a Rhodes Scholar, let’s explore the following:

    1. Who qualifies for the Rhodes scholarship?
    2. Benefits of being a Rhodes scholar
    3. Fields of study Rhodes scholars pursue
    4. Career path options for Rhodes scholars

    Who Qualifies for The Rhodes Scholarship?

    The Rhodes scholarship program is prestigious and one of the oldest, having existed for more than a century. Although the scholarship is open for all post-graduate students in eligible countries, only a hundred students are selected every year, which implies that you have to go through a thorough assessment before being approved to be a Rhode scholar. The conditions for getting the Rhode scholarship were established by Rhode, the founder of the program. However, after his death, the United Kingdom government reviewed the conditions and added more countries to the then list of beneficiaries. Here are some requirements you must fulfill to be a Rhodes applicant:

    • Literary and scholastic attainments
      Academic excellence is the main qualification you need to get a Rhode scholarship. Since very few slots are available globally, the scholarship is awarded to the best students. You have to get First-Class Honors in your bachelor’s degree program to have a competitive advantage over the rest. For instance, out of more than 2,300 applications with an institutional endorsement from universities from the United States in 2020, only 32 received the scholarship. To meet the eligibility criteria as an applicant, you must have been a student in an academic institution not more than ten years before the application.
    • Prowess in co-curriculum activities
      According to Rhode, his focus was to help talented individuals attain the best education while also strengthening the bond between English-speaking countries. This focus is the main reason the selection of Rhodes scholars focused on students’ talents and abilities. Most of the beneficiaries of this scholarship have strong leadership abilities as recommended by their undergraduate institutions. Therefore, besides being excellent in academics, you must use your talent to solve a problem during your undergraduate program.
    • Age qualification
      The introduction of the Rhode scholarship program targeted to empower young people for leadership in English-speaking countries. For this reason, the selection of beneficiaries set certain age limits. The minimum age is 18 years and the maximum 28 years. At this age bracket, many applicants have at least completed one undergraduate degree. A Rhodes Scholarship application is only valid if you turn 28 years old by 1st October in the year of application.
    • Character and personality qualifications
      According to Rhode, the beneficiaries of the scholarship were to have truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy, and protection for the weak society members. Once you apply for the scholarship, they assess you for moral correctness. One of the methods of moral assessment methods is interviews. However, a list of references, especially tutors in your former institution, are contacted to give information about your character.

    Although you might fit the selection criteria to be a Rhode Scholar, sometimes you might still not get a chance to be one. The selection process is stringent since the selection committee only chooses one or two people in a given region. However, you must apply before you are considered for evaluation. The application includes all the necessary documents and a recommendation from your undergraduate institution. In some cases, the selection committee might ask the undergraduate institution to apply on the Rhodes Scholar distribution process fair for all states and regions. According to the Rhodes Trust, the United States is divided into 16 districts, each represented by one academic institution. After the selection, 12 finalists from different universities were granted scholarships in the last year.

    The Rhodes scholarship has several finalists from other regions in Europe, Asia, and Africa. These finalists are also selected based on their region of origin and undergraduate degree institution. In Africa, the scholarship is awarded to students in Western Africa, Eastern Africa, and Southern Africa. The number of scholarships awarded per region is not uniform. For instance, some countries have seen an increased number of selected finalists while others a reduction. Countries like the United States have received a consistent number of allocations, 32, since the start of the program.

    In Africa, countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, and Kenya received two scholarships each. The West African region, on the other hand, received two scholarships. The difference arises because a significant number of countries in the Western Africa region are non-English speakers. Canada and the Southern Africa region have seen an increase in the number of scholarships awarded. In the Southern Africa region, the number rose from 5 in 1902 to 10 in 2018. The allocation process of Rhodes scholarships faced many queries over time. For instance, questions were raised as to why Germans were excluded during the first and second World Wars.

    Benefits of Being a Rhodes Scholar

    The Rhode scholarship is among the most prestigious scholarship programs for many reasons. Other than the general role of global integration, it has many benefits to students as individuals. Here are some of the guaranteed benefits you get as a Rhode Scholar:

    • Quality education: The University of Oxford is a top-ranking academic institution in the world. A Rhode scholarship allows you to advance your education in this institution. At the University of Oxford, you will have access to state-of-the-art learning facilities that guarantee academic excellence. Additionally, you are mentored on important life skills such as leadership and problem-solving. The scholarship covers all the tuition fees, so you don’t have to worry about the cost to access the expensive education at Oxford University.
    • Exposure to different environments: The Rhode scholarship program draws scholars from various parts of the world. If you are a finalist, you get to interact with fellow scholars from multiple countries and regions. Exposure to a global community allows you to network with people from different cultures and life statuses. Networking is important for life during and after the post-graduate degree program. It sets you in a position to identify and explore ideas in various fields.
    • Minimal expenses on studies: The main purpose of the Rhode Scholarship is to provide financial assistance to outstanding students wishing to advance their studies. This scholarship program is one of the best since it takes care of almost all the expenses you might incur while pursuing your post-graduate degree. Once you are selected as a beneficiary, the program covers travel costs to and from the United Kingdom, including flights, visa fees, and health insurance. Rhode Scholars receive stipends to support their stay at the institution during the study period. The stipends are up to $200,000.
    • Employment opportunities: Rhode scholars are considered the best for whichever industry they specialize in. For this reason, many employers would prefer hiring them over other holders of post-graduate degrees. By being a Rhode Scholar, you stand a chance to work in the public or private sector. However, most Rhode Scholars tend to work in public institutions as resource persons. The emphasis on good leadership skills during the post-graduate degree programs prepares you for leadership positions in your field of specialization.
    • Financial freedom: The Rhode scholarship program has changed many lives in developing countries. As a scholar, this program provides you with access to the knowledge and skills necessary to solve real-life problems, including identifying and exploiting income-generating ideas. Additionally, Rhode scholars take part in policy-making processes to make lives better in areas they come from. As a Rhode scholar, you benefit directly from salaries and allowances when you work for certain organizations. Being a postgraduate degree holder, you are likely to be employed in managerial or supervisory positions. These positions attract high salaries and allowances. However, the salary you earn depends on your position and the policies of the organization you work for.
    • Respect from peers and society members: Advancing in education means you can take part in meaningful conversations that spark change in society. Making meaningful contributions to policies attracts respect from your peers and society. Additionally, very few people across the world are awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. If you become a finalist out of the hundreds of thousands that apply, you are considered among the best. Your academic record sets you above other scholars for attending a top-class university under a very competitive scholarship program.

    The Rhode scholarship program has offered studying opportunities to thousands of people since it began in 1903. Some of the program beneficiaries became household names in the fields in which they practiced. Some of the famous Rhode scholars include:

    • Frank E. Holman
      Frank Ezekiel Holman was a renowned American attorney. Holman studied for an undergraduate degree in law at the University of Utah. He was a Rhode scholarship finalist in 1908, after which he became a proactive player in the legal field in America. He was admitted to the Washington bar and the Utah bar in 1911 and 1912, respectively. In 1948, Holman became president of the American Bar Association. Some of Holman’s memorable activities include the efforts to amend the United States Constitution. The amendment aimed to limit the power of treaties and executive agreements. Holman’s efforts led to the Bricker Amendment.
    • George Stanley
      George Francis Gillman Stanley is among the most important people in the history of Canada. Stanley was a renowned historian, author, soldier, teacher, and public servant. He became a Rhode scholar in 1929, having completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta. Stanley was known to be a keen athlete who played for the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club. He achieved a lot more recognition in both academics and practice. However, his most notable contribution to the history of Canada was when he designed the Canadian flag.
    • Bruce Reed
      Bruce Reed is a renowned American political advisor. He became a Rhode scholar in 1982 after attaining an undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Reed is known for numerous administrative roles in the American political field. Between 1985 and 1989, he worked as the chief speechwriter for AI Gore, the then Tennessee Senator. He is the CEO of Democratic Leadership Council; a non-profit organization focused on quality leadership within America. In December 2020, Reed was announced as the Whitehouse deputy chief of staff in the Biden administration. He had previously worked as the chief of staff for Joe Biden while he was the United States Vice president.
    • Madison Tung
      Madison Tung is among the latest people to become Rhode Scholars. She was approved for the scholarship program in 2019 after going through the United States Airforce Academy. Tung is the first female wrestler and national wrestling champion for the United States Air Force Academy. She is a licensed private pilot and holds a Black Belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art.

    Various job opportunities are available for Rhode scholars. Once you complete your scholarship program, you can work in private institutions or public service in whichever field you practice. The degree you obtain as a Rhode scholar determines your job description.

    Fields of Study Rhodes Scholars Pursue 

    The Rhodes scholarship program offers financial aid opportunities for students to pursue post-graduate degrees in various fields. The selection of these courses depends on a person’s abilities and the future problems to be solved. To better understand concepts in the course you choose to study as a Rhode scholar, you need adequate background knowledge, which is why the scholarship program focuses on post-graduate students. Here are some courses you can pursue as a Rhode scholar.

    • Law- Rhode Scholars are known as influential contributors to laws and policies in regions they come from. If you pursue graduate study in law-related fields, you can practice law in the country or region where you live. In most cases, Rhode scholars in the legal field practice international law, which means you can work in any country whose law is covered by the coursework at the University of Oxford. There are job opportunities for law practitioners in international bodies such as the United Nations. The role of lawyers in such organizations is to formulate, interpret, and implement agreements and treaties between member countries.
    • Medical courses- The field of medicine has many career opportunities. In it, you can work as a doctor, nurse, medical researcher, among others. Rhode scholars have access to state-of-the-art facilities, making them excellent performers in technical fields such as medicine. If you specialize in medical courses as a Rhode scholar, you can work in international medical institutions. There are job opportunities in medical research institutions that work to find cures and vaccines for new and old diseases. As a Rhode scholar, you are likely to work in different countries worldwide since the teaching is integrated to suit students from all beneficiary countries.
    • Research courses- Research and studies play an important role in making the world habitable. Some of the best researchers in the world are Rhode Scholars. The training you receive as a Rhode scholar places you in a place to carry out research and process the results to solve real-life problems. Part of this scholarship program allows researchers from different countries to use the facilities to conduct research. As a researcher, you can work in various fields, including medicine, technology, and humanities.
    • Arts and literature- Many Rhode scholars are contributors to art and literature in many forms. Most of these scholars are poet laureates, authors, and painters. One of the most renowned art and literature contributors is George Stanley, who designed the Canadian flag. As a Rhode scholar, you are exposed to different cultures and new information. This exposure stimulates your creativity to come up with new artistic concepts and literature material.
    • Science and Technology- Technology is one of the most crucial elements of the modern world. Rhode scholars are provided with opportunities to study in technology-related fields. Financing these courses aims to increase the supply of skilled individuals worldwide to solve real-life problems using technology. One of the technology fields focused on by this scholarship program is space exploration. Space exploration aims to make communication easier and improve human life by exploring resources in outer space.
    • History- One of the main aims of introducing the Rhode scholarship program was to encourage collaboration between countries with a common development goal. To achieve this goal, the program funds history studies to allow scholars to explore past relationships as a benchmark for creating new ones. Through taking history courses, several policies that were deemed oppressive in the past have been changed to accommodate more people. Studying history places the scholars in a position to understand and appreciate different people and their backgrounds. A famous historian that was a Rhode scholar is George Stanley.

    Although you might fit the selection criteria to be a Rhode Scholar, sometimes you might still not get a chance to be one. The selection process is stringent since the committee only chooses one or two people in a given region. However, you must apply before you are considered for evaluation. The application includes all the necessary documents and a recommendation from your undergraduate institution. In some cases, the committee might ask the undergraduate institution to apply on the scholar’s behalf. In cases where two people from the same region apply to pursue a similar career under the Rhode scholarship program, one might be dropped in favor of the other to give room for diverse skillset supply within that region.

    Career Path Options for Rhodes Scholars

    Rhode scholarships focus on empowering scholars to achieve the highest educational levels they wish to achieve. However, you are more likely to get the scholarship if the career path you want to pursue directly impacts the world. The scholarship program aims at creating useful people that might come back and influence positive change in society. If you intend to apply for the scholarship, here are some of the degree programs you might enroll in.

    Bachelor’s degree

    When in practice, some courses relate closely, which means that attaining a degree in one improves your skills in another. For instance, courses like medicine and pharmacy are closely related. While medicine deals with diagnosis and treatment, pharmacy focuses on the production of drugs used in treatment. If you have a bachelor’s degree in medicine, you can pursue a second bachelor’s degree in pharmacology to improve your knowledge and skills in that area. The Rhode Scholarship program offers opportunities for those who wish to pursue such forms of academic advancement. The second bachelor’s degree you get will be considered graduate study. You can also get nursing scholarships under this program if you wish to pursue a career in nursing.

    Master’s degree

    If you wish to perfect your skills in the career path you are currently on, obtaining a master’s degree is the best step to take. A master’s degree helps you focus on a specific area in your field of study. As a result, you become an expert in the specific area you have chosen to study. For instance, someone with a data science bachelor’s degree can obtain a master’s degree in machine learning. Machine learning is an area within the vast field of data science. Master’s degree scholars are the most common beneficiaries of the Rhode scholarships program.

    Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

    Ph.D. is the highest level of academic qualification you can attain, and you can pursue it after completing a master’s degree. In most cases, a Ph.D. is completed by people who intend to be resource persons in their fields. The Rhode scholarship program is known for supporting several scholars through its Ph.D. program. In some cases, the program offers financial aid to scholars who excel from the master’s degree program sponsorship, which means that one might not have to go through the thorough application and verification process when applying for a Ph.D. scholarship.

    Since it began, the Rhode Scholarship program has produced many influential people in the world. The contributions of these scholars are distributed in all fields, including politics and space exploration. This program has a history of supporting many famous people, and a Rhode scholarship can give your career a positive trajectory. It not only allows you to study in a top-class university but also places you among the world’s top academic performers.

    In Summary

    Scholarship programs have changed the lives of many an outstanding student around the world. By making a college education available for many people, many technological advancements and outstanding scholarly achievements have been made, and society as a whole has benefitted. Scholarships that cover different regions play an important role in creating unity between countries. Appreciation of different cultures from which scholars come helps people live together in harmony and work towards common goals such as sustainability. The Rhodes scholarship program has contributed to shaping technology and politics in different parts of the world. Despite the controversies associated with the program, positive impacts such as producing world leaders stand out.

    Since the program could not support as many scholars every year, it inspired other institutions to give students financial support. Today, hundreds of organizations offer scholarship programs to scholars from different parts of the world. International organizations such as the United Nations offer scholarships through its numerous arms to scholars in Oxford Universities and other academic institutions. Additionally, other academic institutions offer different forms of financial assistance to scholars. However, these institutions still forward suggestions of scholars for the Rhode scholarship program due to its significance.

    Once you get a Rhode scholarship or any other scholarship, discipline is essential. Organizations giving out scholarships keenly follow up on the performance of beneficiaries in academics and character. If your behavior or academic performance deteriorates, you can lose financial assistance. To remain in good standing and make the most of the opportunity you’ve been given, you must focus diligently on your studies and not get distracted by anything that might make your grades or reputation suffer.

    To get the best from a scholarship program, put your networking skills to work. Take advantage of workshops organized in institutions to make connections with new people. Networking places you in a position to learn new ideas that could positively impact your life. As the Rhodes scholarship program is known for being given to the best of the best, you are likely to meet people who can help your career trajectory in the future.

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