By Byron Mutingwende
Three young scholars are heading for Oxford University after they were selected for the prestigious 2019 Zimbabwe Rhodes Scholarship.
The Rhodes Scholarship identifies young talented individuals (25 years and below) who would have excelled academically and shown leadership, strong intellect, character and commitment to service.
Speaking soon after the announcement of the winners, Dr. Tariro Makadzange, the National Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarship in Zimbabwe said each year they select two Rhodes scholars in the country.
“Many of the Rhodes scholars have become leaders in various fields. These include Professor Arthur Mutambara and James Manyika. Elsewhere we have the likes of Bill Clinton and Susan Rice, Nobel Laureates, Supreme Court Justices, Academic Leaders and social activists” Dr. Makadzange said.
The scholarship covers tuition and living expenses in Oxford. Applications open in June and run until the end of August. For the 2019 Scholarships, 100 applications were received. Of these, 60 completed the application process and eight were shortlisted. Of the eight, three made it into the Rhodes Scholarship.
Tatenda Magetsi from Bindura University of Science Education was among the eight. Others were Wadzanayi Masiiwa (University of Zimbabwe), Katherine Brooke (Agnes Scott University – USA), Shantel Marekera (Arizona State University), Rumbidzai Jera (University of Zimbabwe), Maakwe Cumanzala (USA), Itai Muzhingi (Amherst College – USA) and Clarety Kaseke (Bernard College University – USA).
Eventually, only three of them Tatenda Magetsi, Shantel Marekera and Itai Muzhingi made it to Oxford University under the Rhodes Scholarship.
Tatenda Magetsi will do a Masters in Socio-legal studies starting October 2019. For his undergraduate, he studied social work at Bindura University of Science Education where he came out with a first-class honours degree.
“Upon completion of my studies I intend to continue working on a project called “Open Minds Initiative Africa” with my colleague Jockoniah Delani. It focuses on empowering youths in entrepreneurship through financial literacy skills training and resources mobilisation and linking them with resources systems,” Magetsi said.
Shantel Marekera, another finalist, will pursue an undergraduate degree in Jurisprudence at Oxford University. She did justice studies at Arizona State University. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate where she got a 4.0 Great Point Average (GPA) and was the Student Convocation Speaker.
Upon completion of her studies, Shantel wants to work with the UN Women or the Just Society.
“I would want to use both domestic and international human rights law to challenge backward practices that work against and oppress women. I will also continue with my role as the Global Peace Ambassador for Zimbabwe to help create a culture of transparency and accountability and create more awareness about how we can all contribute the global human rights economy,” Shantel said.
She has plans to continue working with her organisation, “Little Dreams Foundation” that helps provide access to quality and affordable pre-school education from financially disadvantaged families.
Itai Muzhingi is going to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Molecualr and Cellular Medicine at Oxford University. He studied biochemistry at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
“I was honoured with the most prestigious award at the college called the Obed Finch Slingerland Award that is warded to the student who shows the most appreciation of liberal arts education. I also did cholera research at Amherst College and my work was published in the Journal of Bacteriology. Currently, I am developing HIV vaccines at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology ,” Itai said.
Upon completion, he intends to use the biomedical research skills to integrate clinical research and biomedical research in the medical system in Zimbabwe. He also intends to use his skills towards the development of vaccines and cures for infectious diseases, especially those that impact Sub-Saharan Africa.
“I also intend to continue my social projects aimed at providing education to the underprivileged children, especially those that lost parents to the HIV pandemic,” Itai added.
Dalumuzi Mhlanga, a Rhodes Scholarship Alumni, who first did his undergraduate degree in social studies from Harvard University before studying a Masters’ degree in African Studies and a Masters of Business Administration at Oxford University, encouraged the successful candidates to maintain their strong commitment to advancing the country.