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Rhodes Scholarships unite academic and sporting excellence

28 January 2010

On January 7th the University of Alabama won the Rose Bowl Game against the Texas Longhorns. During on of the numerous breaks, a focus on Alabama’s quarterback Greg McElroy precised that he “applied for Rhodes Scholarship”, I was curious and wanted to know what it was and my friend William told me it was “kind of a particular program for very bright students to go study abroad“. McElroy might go study in one of the world’s most prestigious academic programs at Oxford University in 2011… with a Southeastern Conference Championship ring on his finger.

The Rhodes House on the Oxford Campus. Even Einstein delivered lectures here (in 1931)

Rhodes Scholarship was created in 1902 after Cecil John Rhodes’ death. His will was to “improve the world through the diffusion of leaders motivated to serve their contemporaries” by bringing bright students from all over the world to study at Oxford. Nowadays, about 80 students are granted Rhodes and go to the famous English university to study various subjects like Medicine, Politics, History, Economics, Philosophy etc. (see the list of 2009’s 32 American Rhodes scholar) According to Cecil Rhodes, who graduated from Oxford before gonig to South Africa where he founded the mining company De Beers, the university offers an optimal environment to learn and become a leader (“Wherever you turn your eye—except in science—an Oxford man is at the top of the tree“). The following is a screen capture of the Rhodes Scholarship’s current website which list general skills that a Rhodes applicant is supposed to have :

Retrieved from RhodesScholar.org/faq on January 28th

In order to get there, quarterback McElroy not only has to be a good sportsman, but he’ll also have to write an essay and pass quizzes on current events, as well as having the full support of his university (written statements, references, transcripts etc.). One of the major steps however is the interview with Oxford Alumni and former Rhodes Scholars to weigh up the student’s motivation, integrity and his real engagement. According to Al.com, the Marketing student had only one single “B” in his college years, which proves the applicant’s academic excellence.

What Alabama’s McElroy would like to achieve, Florida State’s Myron Rolle did it in 2009 : he studied Medical Anthropology. When asked what his goals are (beside being a first pick in the NFL draft), he answers that he wants to attend medical school in order to become a neurosurgeon and help the needy in underdeveloped countries like the Bahamas. This article is from 2009, and I just watched an interview from the very same Myron Rolle on ESPN Sports Center – his answer sounds as convincing as a year ago. His next goal, however, is to catch the NFL scouts’ attention at the SeniorBowl in Mobile (a 60 miles away from Pensacola) this week-end.

And because I’m a passionate cyclist, I can’t get around a last example of a Rhodes Scholar : Rosara Joseph from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. On the road bike, she is a silver-medalist at the 2006 Commonwealth Games ; on the mountain bike she finished 9th of Beijing’s 2008 Olympic XC-race. At Oxford, she achieved a Bachelor of Civil Law and is currently preparing her PhD to become a lawyer.

Rosara Joseph riding a criterium for the NZ National road cycling team during the 2007 Bay Classic Series - Retrieved from Wikipedia on January 28th

SPORT RULES !

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