Prestigious Rhodes Scholarships for three UCT students

17 February 2004

Studying at an eminent international university is merely a dream for many students. But for three UCT students that dream is about to become a reality after they were awarded prestigious Rhodes Scholarships.

The three, Alexis Sienaert, Kirsty Bobrow and Anthony Knox, will soon be jetting off to Oxford University to continue their studies.

Created by Cecil John Rhodes's will and awarded each year since 1903, the scholarships fund postgraduate students to study any course for which they are qualified at Oxford for a period of two, possibly three years.

Worldwide about 80 Rhodes Scholars are selected each year. Many have gone on to become world leaders in politics, economics and literature.

South African Rhodes Scholars include the Honourable Justice Edwin Cameron, the Honourable Justice Laurie Ackermann, current Wits University Vice-Chancellor Loyiso Nongxa, and Mandela Rhodes Foundation chief executive Shaun Johnson.

When Rhodes drew up the scholarship conditions in his will, he stipulated that applicants must have certain qualities. He grouped these into four main areas: very high standards of intellectual and academic ability; moral integrity and interest in and respect for fellow human beings; qualities of leadership; and physical vigour.

He stated that "students who shall be elected to the scholarships shall not be merely bookworms", and he expressed the hope that a Rhodes Scholar would come to "esteem the performance of public duties as his highest aim".

Looking at the backgrounds of UCT's victors they clearly possess all the specified qualities.

Sienaert plans to read for an MPhil degree in economics. He is the son of Dr Marilet Sienaert, UCT's director of research and innovation. He completed his BCom honours in economics in 2003, winning the class medal. In his final year of his BCom in politics, philosophy and economics, he won the award for top third-year student in the commerce faculty. In 2002, Sienaert won the undergraduate section of the annual Old Mutual/Nedbank Budget Speech competition. He plays tennis, squash and golf.

Bobrow matriculated at Abbott's College before embarking on an MBChB at UCT, where she has just completed her fifth year. She has been a vice-president of SHAWCO and is a member of the Golden Key Honour Society. While at school she competed in rowing at a national level. Bobrow is a keen debater who also counts scuba diving, hiking and rock climbing among her current interests. She intends to read for a master's degree in the areas of public health or comparative social policy.

Knox attended St Andrew's College where he was head of his house as well as a school prefect. He gained an A aggregate in his matriculation examinations. He has just completed his BSc in civil engineering. His busy extra-mural programme has included community service and captaining the university's first rugby team. Knox plans to complete a one-year MSc in environmental change and management. He is working with an environmental and ocean engineering consulting firm in Santiago, Chile, before heading over to England in August to begin his studies.

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