Young achievers headed to Oxford University – 2012 Rhodes Scholars

Rhodes Scholar,  Class of 1968

This coming September, a group of talented young students from Southern Africa will be joining their peers at Oxford University in the United Kingdom as Rhodes Scholars. Their achievements speak to what South Africa is capable of producing. We need to fight harder for an education system that can nurture this kind of talent across the socio-economic spectrum.  

Cecil John Rhodes, the mining tycoon and politician, established the scholarship in his will and the first scholarships were awarded 110 years ago. Rhodes wished for the scholarship to develop leaders who would “fight the world’s fight” and “esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim”, and also to promote international understanding and peace. 

The Rhodes Scholarship is now considered to be one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, with a class of 83 scholars selected each year from 14 countries, including India, South Africa and the United States. In Southern Africa, the Rhodes Trust, based on Rhodes’ will, makes provision for country-wide scholarships, one for Kwazulu Natal, one for Botswana/Lesotho/Malawi/Namibia/Swaziland  and scholarships available to the alumni of specifically named schools (Bishops, Paul Roos and St Andrew’s, and increasingly, their sister schools). 

Scholarship selection committees across the world are enjoined to seek young  students who demonstrate outstanding intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service. It is inspiring and gratifying to read the short bios of young scholars. 

Introducing Southern Africa’s Rhodes Scholars-elect for 2012:

South-Africa-at-Large Scholars-Elect:
David Mordechai Favara (26), the son of Drs. Claudio and Nehama Favara, grew up in East London, attended Stirling High School and studied medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Medical School. As a medical student, David directed the Masiphumele and later Imizamo Yethu clinics while also being involved in clinical research. He was the 2009 president of the UCT Surgical Society and was chosen as the “Most outstanding Student Leader in a Society or Student Organisation”. He presented at a surgery conference in Yokohama, Japan and was a founding member of the Chesed Paediatric Clinic which runs regular free primary health care paediatric clinics in Mzamomhle, East London. Apart from medicine, David is an keen amateur violinist who regularly plays with orchestras and acts as assistant cantor for the East London Hebrew Congregation. David has a passion for health development in South Africa and plans a career as a clinician scientist. He is currently working as a medical intern at the East London Hospital Complex and will read for an MSc in Immunology at Oxford.
Sebabatso Manoeli (23), daughter of Mrs. Tselane Manoeli and Mr. Phoka Manoeli, was born in Lesotho and raised in South Africa and is a fierce proponent of democracy in Africa. In 2009 her travels led her to Ghana where she was selected as an emerging African women leader from candidates from 21 African countries. She has since studied at Amherst College in the United States as a Mandela Scholar where she majored in Political Science and Black Studies. Her academic curiosity led her to Egypt where she spent a semester studying African and Arab identities as well as regional integration in the Arab League. Passionate about women’s rights, Sebabatso has been involved in anti-human trafficking campaigns assisting women in prostitution in South African cities. She also spoke at the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York City and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. For relaxation Sebabatso paints, draws and writes poetry.
Michael Mbongeni Ndlovu (21) son of the late Mr. Meshack Ndlovu and Mrs. Nokuthula Ninela, Michael grew up in the area of Embo Reserve near Hillcrest. He attended Hillcrest High School where he was Head Boy in 2007. At school he took part in rugby, soccer, debating and performed in various school productions. Amongst other achievements, he was awarded trophies for the Best All Rounder and for the Greatest Contribution to Cultural Affairs. He received a bursary from McCarthy Holdings and studied for a Business Science in Economics degree at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Westville Campus. During his university career he was a member of the Golden Key Honours Society, tutored 2nd and 3rd year Economics and was a Coordinator of the Westville Campus Writing Centre. He completed his degree with numerous Deans Recommendations and in his Honours year received Certificates of Merit for Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics. At Oxford he will read for an MSc in Development Economics.
Anna Zawilska (22), daughter of Dr W Zawilski and Mrs E Zawilska attended Crawford College Durban where she finished matric with distinctions in all of her 8 subjects, coming first in the Independent Schools Category in the district of Umlazi and second among all schools. In 2007, Anna began studying towards a BSc in Electronic Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), where she graduated summa cum laude and received various awards for being the top graduating engineering student in 2010. Since then, Anna has been awarded an Eskom Academic Award and a Women in Science Award from the Department of Science and Technology for her achievements. In 2011, Anna began doing research towards her MSc at UKZN in the field of digital image steganography and has presented at two conferences. She has been awarded the Vincent Maphai Scholarship for the most academically outstanding postgraduate student at UKZN. Her research interests lie in machine intelligence, social media and human computer interaction. At Oxford, Anna will study towards a DPhil in Engineering Science.
Chrystelle Opope Oyaka Wedi (26), daughter of Dr. Oloko Wedi and Mrs. Pauline Omambo Wedi was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to South Africa at the age of six due to the political conflict in the DRC. She matriculated at Lyttelton Manor High and enrolled for a Medical degree at the University of Pretoria where she graduating Cum Laude. She is currently doing her 2nd year of a medical internship at Kalafong hospital. She is currently also doing her Masters in Immunology with a focus on Breast and Esophagus cancer and hopes to increase the use of immunology in the clinical management of cancer. She is an activist against gender based violence, especially in the DRC where she has volunteered at numerous hospitals. She is currently the Secretary General of Vandelo NGO, which has set up 2 hospitals in Lubumbashi, DRC. She will read for an MSc in Global health sciences at Oxford followed by a DPhil in Immunology.

Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland Scholar-Elect
Matthews Kgosietsile Mmopi (23) son of Mr. Mpho Mmopi and Mrs. Banyana Mmopi, attended Legae Academy and graduated as valedictorian of his class and as the top performing student in Botswana with eight IGCSE academic distinctions. Thereafter, Matthews earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma from the world-renowned United World College (UWC) in the USA, again graduating at the top of his class. At UWC he served on the student council and as president of the African Chorus. Matthews attended Harvard College where he graduated with high honours in Economics and African Studies in May 2011. He served as president of the Kuumba Singers and interned at Harvard College Women’s Center. Matthews received numerous awards at Harvard, including the $10,000 Philippe Wamba Summer Research Prize for his work on HIV/AIDS denialism in Botswana and South Africa, the Ephraim Isaac Prize for excellence in African Studies, and the Morris Kronfeld Prize in Economics. Furthermore, he was offered a place in Harvard Business School’s MBA (2+2) programme. At Oxford, he will read for an MPhil in Development Studies.

KwaZulu-Natal Scholar-Elect
Sabeeha Mansoor (22), daughter of Mrs. Fathima Paruk and Mr. Shabir Mansoor, was raised in Durban where she was elected to the Representative Council of Learners at Westville Girls’ High School. In 2007 she matriculated with a distinction in each of her seven subjects as Dux of Westville Girls’ High and was placed in the top ten matriculants in KZN. A keen public speaker, she was awarded KZN Provincial Colours for debating. She is also the recipient of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation scholarship, and was jointly awarded Fellow of the Year in 2008. She also received the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation National Academic Excellence Award in 2011. In 2010, Sabeeha was selected as part of the 13-member South African Washington Internship Programme (SAWIP) team, and interned at the private arm of the World Bank in Washington DC. Sabeeha has just completed her Bachelor of Business Science at the University of Cape Town, where she has been on the Dean’s Merit list since her first year. At Oxford, Sabeeha will read for an MSc in Economics for Development.

Schools’ Scholars-Elect
Diocesan College
Ziyaad Bhorat (22) is the youngest son of Mr. Ebrahim Bhorat and Mrs. Zochra Bhorat and grew up in the Western Cape. In 2007 he matriculated with seven distinctions and academic colours from Diocesan College (Bishops). Awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship, Ziyaad went on to study his Bachelor of Business Science at the University of Cape Town. Besides being the first and only concurrent graduate of his dual major in Law and Economics within the Business Science degree, Ziyaad was also awarded first class honours at the end of 2011. A member of the Golden Key Honours Society, Ziyaad also played an active role as Transformation Officer upon election to the Law Students’ Council in 2010. Working closely with the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative (CLASI), he took great joy in spreading the knowledge of constitutional law to schools in disadvantaged communities around the Western Cape. Ziyaad is an avid fan of popular music and enjoys gym, swimming and squash. He will read for a two-year MPhil in Economics at Oxford.
Paul Roos Gymnasium
Jonathan Reader (21), son of Dr Ursula Reader and Prof Howard Reader, grew up in Stellenbosch and attended Paul Roos Gymnasium, matriculating in 2007 with six distinctions. While at school, Jonathan played first-team hockey and squash. He pursued a BComm (Law) degree at Stellenbosch University and graduated cum laude in 2010. During his undergraduate career he was active in several university bodies including the campus newspaper and the Stellenbosch chapters of Habitat for Humanity and the United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA). As the chairperson of UNASA Stellenbosch, he launched a reading programme for primary school learners, co-founded a township internet café and led community development projects in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In 2011, Jonathan completed an Honours degree in Economics at Stellenbosch University as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, graduating cum laude. At Oxford, Jonathan will read for an MSc in Economics for Development followed by a Master of Public Policy.
St Andrew’s College
Beth Vale (23), daughter of Mrs. Louise Vale and Prof Peter Vale, matriculated at Diocesan School for Girls (DSG), Grahamstown, with Academic Honours. Beth continued her studies at Rhodes University where she completed a Joint BA Honours degree in Political & International Studies and Philosophy, graduating with distinctions in both subjects. Beth completed her undergraduate degree with a first class in every course, placing as the top student in both her departments and within the top 10 undergraduates in the university. In 2010 Beth was awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. At the end of her first year, Beth was elected President of the Student HIV/AIDS Resistance Campaign (SHARC). In 2010, she was employed as HIV/AIDS Advocacy Officer for Rhodes University and reviewed university AIDS policy. Beth co-founded the My Body My Choice annual photographic exhibition and served as a committee member for the Sexual Violence = Silence movement. In recognition of these efforts, she was awarded leadership awards from the Dean of Students, Rhodes Amnesty International and Rhodes Top 100. Beth is currently completing a Masters degree in Sociology with the AIDS in Society Research Unit at UCT, whilst interning for two AIDS NGOs. At Oxford, she will read towards a DPhil in Social Intervention.
Statement issued by Annette Gibson, Rhodes Trust in Southern Africa, December 14 2011

The Rhodes Trust

Image Sources
The Rhodes Trust
The Clinton Foundation

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