Governor General, Dame Sandra Mason, congratulates the 2020 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar, Abbie Godoy of Belize, while Secretary for the Commonwealth Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, Peter Goldson, looks on. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The town of San Ignacio, Belize has reason to celebrate today. One of their own, 20 year-old Abbie Godoy, has been awarded the prestigious 2020 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship.

Ms. Godoy stood out from among ten other contestants who hailed from Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent, Guyana, Bahamas, Antigua and Dominica to capture the coveted award after an intense interview process by a selection committee headed by the Governor-General of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason.

The announcement was made yesterday at Government House, the Governor-General’s official residence.

Ms. Godoy, who completed her graduate studies at the University of Belize, will be pursuing a Masters in Development Studies with the scholarship. She said she was surprised that she was chosen from among such a worthy group of her peers. 

“All of the [candidates] were really amazing and I felt a little intimidated coming from my country and from my university, which is 3,000 students compared to some of the [candidates] who are from Harvard and the UWI.

“I am pursuing a Masters in Development Studies… because in my country a lot of times people talk about conflict and they talk about all of the problems that we have and never really address how we could go about amending these problems. I feel that developing an understanding of who we are and how our identity was constructed and formed is the way to go,” she explained.

The San Ignacio native has fought hard for what she wanted all her life, growing up in a “lower middle income” family. Her approach to the 2020 Commonwealth Rhodes Scholarship was no different.

“Honestly, it has been a battle since the beginning. Coming from a single-parent family in Belize, you are already at a disadvantage. I fought hard to get to the schools that I attended. I chose to stay at the University of Belize because I didn’t want to leave my country; I didn’t want to leave it yet because I wanted to get that understanding.

“Coming here and going against these amazing people was very hard because you do develop a companionship with them; you are all going through the same process. I can’t really tell you how I did it. All I know is that I persevered and I was determined to get the scholarship,” said Ms. Godoy, who credited her mother for all she has achieved to date.

“My mom is my rock, my whole world. Her name is Brenda Guillen. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t even be in the world so, thanks, mom.”

Governor-General, Dame Sandra told all of the candidates they were “an inspiring and aspiring bunch”, adding the region and the world could look forward to hearing and seeing great things from them in the future.

The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the oldest scholarships in the world. The scholarship was established under the will of Cecil John Rhodes, a British diamond magnate and imperialist who died in 1903. It is regarded as the preeminent graduate scholarship.

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