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UWI takes both 2013 Rhodes Scholarships

For Release Upon Receipt - November 23, 2012


Two graduates of The University of the West Indies (UWI) have won the Rhodes scholarships for 2013. Vincent Taylor, a 22-year-old computer scientist from the Mona campus of The UWI, won the Jamaican Rhodes award, while Trinidadian Cornelius Kiron Neale, also 22, of the St Augustine campus, copped the Commonwealth Caribbean scholarship.

“I am extremely elated and also humbled by the confidence that the committee has placed in me,” Taylor said after the announcement by Jamaica’s Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, last week. The holder of a double major degree in computer science and electronics, Taylor is currently reading for a Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) at the Mona campus, specialising in wireless network sensor security.   

Neale, who was this year’s valedictorian for The UWI’s St Augustine campus’s Faculty of Science and Agriculture, is only the tenth Trinidadian to win the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship since its inception in 1962, when it was known as the British Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship.

While at Oxford University in England, where the award is tenable, Neale intends to pursue a Masters in Environmental Change and Management, with an emphasis on climate change and its repercussions for the Caribbean.  

Taylor intends to continue in the field of network security. “Technology is becoming pervasive across the world and we need to have our networks secured so that our personal information and transactions will be safe,” he added.

Both UWI graduates hail from rural areas – Neale from Marabella in south Trinidad, while Taylor is a native of Junction in the parish of St Elizabeth. Neale said he is “quite humbled by the moment” and he believes “his ambition for the Caribbean region” may have given him the edge over the other students.

“My main area is energy and the environment,” he explained. “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,” Neale said.

Secretary of the Selection Committee, Peter Goldson, a former Jamaica Rhodes Scholar, said all of the candidates were worthy, but Neale’s interview put him over the top. 

In the 64 years since the founding of The UWI, more than 60 of its graduates have won the highly regarded Rhodes scholarship.

“It does say something encouraging about The University of the West Indies and our educational system when there are so many brilliant young men and women, who have done so well. It really is very encouraging,” Goldson remarked.  

Taylor said he chose to do his first degree at The UWI because it only takes three years, as opposed to four, and he would be one year ahead of his counterparts. Secondly, the approach that The UWI takes in its computer courses is similar to that of leading universities such as MIT, “so I saw no reason to go overseas to do my first degree,” he explained.

His experience at UWI has been “very enlightening, amazing and fulfilling at the same time,” he added. “I’ve participated in a number of activities, and I also lived in on Chancellor Hall, which gave me numerous opportunities for role in leadership and event planning. Hall life and the various clubs and societies have helped to develop me holistically.” 

Well-known former Rhodes scholars include the late Professor Rex Nettleford, Vice-Chancellor Emeritus of The UWI, former Jamaican Prime Minister Norman Manley, and former United States President Bill Clinton.

The Rhodes scholarship is named after Cecil John Rhodes, a British diamond magnate and imperialist, after whom the colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was named. In his will, Rhodes bequeathed the greater part of his substantial fortune to establish the scholarship scheme. 

Candidates for Rhodes Scholarships are selected on the basis of qualities of character as well as intellect. Rhodes’ aim was to provide future leaders of the English-speaking world with an education which would broaden their views and develop their abilities. He chose to endow these scholarships at Oxford University because he believed its residential colleges provided an environment that was conducive to personal development.

Rhodes hoped that those who benefited from his scholarships would go on to improve the lot of mankind, and work towards maintaining peace between nations. 

The Rhodes scholarship is awarded based on:

Literary and scholastic attainmentsEnergy to use one’s talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness and success in sportsTruth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship

Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings

In recognition of the centenary of the foundation of the Rhodes Trust in 2004, four Oxford alumni were awarded honorary degrees by the university, including the late Professor Rex Nettleford, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, author, dancer and choreographer. The Rhodes Trust also established the Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies at The UWI, an annual award given to a resident of the Caribbean under the age of 35 worth £10,000, with an associated travel grant of £2,000, for all areas of scholarship in the field of cultural studies, including the creative and visual arts.



About UWI

Over the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 45 physical site locations across the region, serving 16 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences.  

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)