UCT's four new Rhodes Scholars
3 February 2017
Panorama from St Mary the Virgin’s tower. The University Church of St Mary the Virgin is the centre from which the University of Oxford grew and its parish consists almost exclusively of university and college buildings. Photo Laemq via Wikimedia Commons.
In a year that sees the Rhodes Scholarships increasing the size of its cohort and its reach to the Middle East and Malaysia, four UCT graduates made the cut for one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world.
Awarded each year since 1903, the Rhodes Scholarships fund postgraduate students to study any course for which they are qualified at Oxford University for a period of two, or possibly three, years.
The scholarship conditions call for applicants with certain qualities, which are grouped into four main areas: very high standards of intellectual and academic ability; moral integrity and interest in and respect for fellow human beings; leadership qualities; and physical vigour.
UCT’s Fuaad Coovadia, Mbalenhle Matandela, Joshua Nott and Abigail Branford will all study at Oxford University in 2017 as part of the 96-strong group of 2017 Rhodes Scholarships.
Fuaad Coovadia has recently completed a Bachelor of Business Science, majoring in economics. His passion for economics can be seen in his authoring of a microeconomics study guide for undergraduate students. Following this, he co-founded Presto – a publishing company that specialises in providing educational materials, such as study guides for university and high school students. During his time at UCT, he also served as the head student of Jan Smuts Hall and worked as a consultant for the small enterprise development NGO Phaphama. While at Oxford, Fuaad intends to pursue his interests in economics with a special focus on labour economics and the proliferation of economic knowledge to non-economists.
Mbalenhle Matandela is currently the project coordinator of the Right2Protest project, which is a coalition project based at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mbalenhle received her Bachelor of Social Sciences honours degree in gender and transformation from UCT. Her honours thesis focused on black women’s experiences in the Rhodes Must Fall movement. Mbalenhle also received her Bachelor of Social Science degree in international relations, gender studies and business French with a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship at UCT. At Oxford, Mbalenhle intends to pursue an MPhil in development studies during which time she will continue to study the relationship between gender and the politics of development in Africa.
Joshua Nott is a graduate from UCT with a Bachelor of Social Science with a distinction in political studies. He has recently finished his LLB. Joshua is keenly interested in social justice and has pioneered a number of workers’ rights and student focused initiatives. On the professional front, Joshua has worked for international and domestic think tanks, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA). Joshua hopes to read for his Bachelor of Civil Law at Oxford University and thereafter return to South Africa in order to pursue a career in the public sector.
Abigail Branford completed her undergraduate degree at Rhodes University, receiving a triple distinction in history, politics and linguistics. There she began innovative work on gender education in high schools, facilitating workshops that allow learners to interrogate the social world around them. A deep interest in how we confront painful histories led her to specialise in transitional justice at UCT as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar. After graduating she took to documentary film with twospinningwheels productions to learn new ways of sharing ideas. She is currently studying towards an MPhil in education, globalisation and international development at Cambridge University and looks forward to her next degree in African Studies at Oxford. She enjoys debating in competitive tournaments and in pubs.
Story Yusuf Omar. Photos supplied.