Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Rhodes Scholars elect named

Three outstanding young New Zealand graduates have received prestigious Rhodes Scholarships to carry out post-graduate study at the University of Oxford, UK.

The 2021 Rhodes Scholars elect are Liam Dennis, Rhieve Grey and Jessica Sutton.

The Governor-General The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy expressed her congratulations to the three Rhodes Scholars for 2021.

“I wish them all the very best for their future studies at Oxford. It has been a real privilege to meet the candidates for Rhodes Scholarships during my time as Governor-General. As always, the standard of this year’s finalists was very impressive, and they will be wonderful ambassadors for Aotearoa New Zealand,” she said.

Described by one of his referees as “a young man with huge potential, who has already made a considerable difference in the lives of others and who is committed to doing more”, Liam Dennis currently works as a Consultant at Boston Consulting Group in Melbourne. He completed a Bachelor of Commerce, with papers in computer science and software engineering at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington in 2017.

He plans to study for an MSc in Energy Systems and a Master of Public Policy at Oxford, to deepen his knowledge and understanding of sustainability research, and to equip him with the connections and tools to unravel pressing policy problems.

Liam’s commitment to contributing to his community started early. Between the ages of eight and 10 he grew several thousand Christmas trees to raise $13,300 for the Child Cancer Foundation, and later led efforts at his secondary school which raised another $79,000 for the Cancer Society.

His practical social conscience is also evident in his love of—and skills in—debating, where many of the topics concerned social and political policy and ethical dilemmas. He represented New Zealand internationally, leading the national schools team to the world championship, and winning the national championship twice.

As a Technology and Education Ambassador for the Sir Peter Blake Trust (BLAKE), Liam designed, built and deployed an interactive platform to enhance the Trust’s interactive storytelling tools, which focus on environmental education.

Liam continues to use his skills to further his passion for sustainability in his role at BCG. He leads local efforts to reduce BCG’s environmental footprint, and sees tremendous commercial opportunity for organisations that adopt sustainable approaches.

“I am passionate about bringing skilled people together to make a difference,” says Liam.

“Following my studies at Oxford, I aim to help commercialise or accelerate the implementation of emerging research, and to support both established sustainability programmes in the UK and Europe and the rapidly developing efforts back home.”

Rhieve Grey (Ngāti Tūwharetoa ki Taupō, Ngāti Manunui, Ngāti Porou) is studying at the University of Auckland towards a BA (Hons) in Psychology, focusing on the Treatment and Prevention for Māori youth with harmful sexual behaviours, and has been accepted into the Clinical psychology program (DClinPsy), which has competitive entry based on grades and extra-curricular involvement.

That extra-curricular component is based firmly on Rhieve’s outstanding mahi as a leader, mentor, researcher and facilitator working with Māori and Pasifika youth, both through his school career and then at university. “I am blessed to be descended from [a] successful whakapapa and it has translated into much of the success I now reap,” he says.

His journey through university has led him to give back much to others who may not have had his advantages. As one of his referees noted: “Rhieve has clear long-term aspirations to support and develop Māori and improve their outcomes across New Zealand.”

For two years, Rhieve volunteered in the Mount Eden Corrections Facility, helping inmates with goal setting and qualification acquisition, and hosting on impulsivity and critical thinking around actions—working particularly with those in the youth unit.

While at university, he is working as a Tuākana teaching mentor, in a programme established to boost the engagement and achievement of Māori and Pasifika students. He has also been a facilitator for a Māori and Pasifika leadership programme that gives students the leadership abilities required of them in an academic setting.

Early last year, in response to New Zealand’s high suicide rates—particularly among young men—Rhieve created and hosted a podcast (Hard Yarns) that aims to normalise conversations around mental health.

In 2018 he was awarded the University of Auckland Mātariki Rising Stars Award for academic achievement and all-round excellence and in 2019-2020 was awarded the prestigious Kupe Leadership Scholarship, is a highly contested award where awardees are assigned mentors from community, corporate and political domains to develop diverse leadership attributes and to serve others.

At Oxford, Rhieve plans to study for a Master’s in Evidence Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation and a Master’s of Public Policy. Rhieve is dedicated to helping combat the social inequities faced by Māori people as well as all indigenous peoples the world over.

Jessica Sutton is completing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (in French) at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington, and has been selected as to work as a Judge’s Clerk at the High Court in Wellington.

One of her referees described Jessica as having a true passion for using the law, and international law in particular, to further the rights of women and girls in all parts of the world.

“As Jessica’s academic record attests, she has excelled at her legal studies from the very start. However, she has spoken compellingly to me about how her passion for the law really gelled once she connected with it at the emotional level, and saw how it could be used to effect change in the lives of real people, particularly women and girls.”

To this end, she plans to study the Bachelor of Civil Law and the MSt in Women’s Studies at Oxford. “Studying at Oxford would give me the knowledge and skills to support my future advocating against gender-based violence,” she says, “likely with the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

This is work Jessica has already started—as a member and current secretary of the NZ Institute of International Affairs Wellington branch, an editorial committee member of the NZ International Review, a refugee support volunteer with Red Cross, and the Founder and Chair of a charitable trust She’s Right, which aims to raise New Zealand’s awareness of global women’s rights issues, particularly gender-based violence, through articles and a podcast.

She’s Right now attracts readers and podcast listeners from around the world,” says Jessica. “I translate and edit women’s rights articles by New Zealand and overseas writers, and write and publish  educational articles, including a ‘women and the law’ series analysing trials and legal reforms from a feminist perspective. A highlight of the trust’s work so far was participating in UN Women’s 2019 public initiative ‘16 days of activism to end violence against women’, publishing one article daily for the 16-day period.

“I am grateful for my privileged life. I have had an excellent education, a loving family, and I have never been a victim of gender-based violence,” she says. “But I am unable to stand to the side when women and girls need my support.”

About the Rhodes Scholarship

The Rhodes Scholarship provides transformative opportunities for exceptional all-round students to carry out postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. Today, 95 scholars are selected from 64 countries and go on to become part of the wider Rhodes scholarship community while at university and throughout their lives.

The Scholarship covers the students’ fees, accommodation and living costs for up to three years at Oxford, which is one of the oldest and top-ranked universities in the world.

Today the Rhodes Scholarships for New Zealand is a partnership between the Rhodes Trust and the Robertson Foundation, with the application and selection process managed by Universities New Zealand along with about 35 other scholarships worth over $2 million.

Further information:

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