|Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar, Kiron Neale (right), being congratulated by Governor General, Sir Elliott Belgrave (second right). Looking on are members of the Selection Committee, Chief Justice Marston Gibson (left) and secretary of the committee Peter Goldson, a former Jamaica Rhodes Scholar.|
Trinidadian, Kiron Cornelius Neale, 22, is the 2013 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar.
This announcement came today from Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee. He emerged the winner from among six other candidates from the region. Barbados had one candidate, Dominica, two; Jamaica, one; and Trinidad, three.
The shocked, but elated young man plans to pursue a Masters in Environmental Change and Management, with an emphasis on Climate Change and its repercussions for the Caribbean.
"It feels pretty good; I am quite humbled by the moment. I am a bit speechless… It feels good to bring the award back to Trinidad, after some years. The first person I am going to call is my mum; I am a single child and she is a single parent, so she will be the first person to hear the good news," Mr. Neale told reporters after the announcement.
When asked what he thought gave him the edge over his peers, he responded: "Perhaps it was because of my ambition for the Caribbean region. My main area is Energy and the Environment. I plan on diversifying the region’s energy in terms of solar energy. That is my particular area of research, especially with Trinidad and Tobago and the hydrocarbons that we have been using. I have done my research on governmental housing to get away from the conventional oil and gas, and it is something that can be spread throughout the Caribbean, because we are blessed with a lot of solar and alternative energy. I think my ambition to drive the Caribbean forward into using renewable energy might be a key factor that may have played out today."
Secretary of the Selection Committee, Peter Goldson, a former Jamaica Rhodes Scholar, said all of the candidates were worthy, but the Marabella, San Fernando resident’s interview put him over the top.
He added that in addition to academic excellence, Rhodes Scholars must exhibit other characteristics, including leadership, concern for the weak, and a desire to give public service, and to make a difference in the world.
The scholarship covers tuition and living expenses to attend the University of Oxford in England. It is considered the most prestigious postgraduate scholarship in the world.
"We had to make sure that the candidates were of a very high calibre. The committee tries to test them to see who is the strongest. In our discussions at the end, there were a number of them who were in contention as the possible winner. But the committee thought that Mr. Neale was most deserving of the scholarship this year. We are delighted to have announced him as the winner and we are looking forward in the future to more applicants from Barbados because of the quality of its education system," Mr. Goldson said.
Each year, one Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship is awarded. There is also a separate Rhodes Scholarship for Jamaica. Other prominent Jamaican and Caribbean Rhodes Scholars include: the late Professor Rex Nettleford; Professor Trevor Monroe; Norman Manley and Chief Justice of Barbados, Marston Gibson. Internationally, Rhodes Scholars have included former United States President Bill Clinton, as well as members of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom and members of the United States Supreme Court.