Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship

Find out more about applying for the Rhodes Scholarship


The Rhodes-Oxford Experience

Wednesday 24 October, 2018

by Kumeren Govender (KwaZulu-Natal & Balliol 2018)

Kumeren Govender

I title this 'The Rhodes-Oxford Experience' because experiencing the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar is truly remarkable and unique in every essence. There are many ways to study at this institution through other available scholarships, departmental funding opportunities or private funding, however the Rhodes Scholarship appears simply incomparable. I say this because I feel part of a larger community of Scholars whom at times seem to be in somewhat different fields to me, but all have a similar goal in mind- to impact the world to build a better society for you and me. Changing the world for the better may appear to be a common rhetoric in the land of the dreaming spires, however if there is one place where ideas are consistently churned out and so easily transformed into reality, it is Oxford University; with its vast access to resources and networks of right-minded people from all spheres of life.

Admittedly the legacy of the Scholarship is not an easy one to imbibe. With all its history embroiled in imperialism and antifeminism, it’s fairly contradictory in nature. However, it is a means to right the wrongs of the past and a way to contribute back to the very fabric of our society. Personally, it is a society that built this legacy by working in the diamond mines back at home in South Africa.

Arriving at Oxford confronted with numerous physical, mental and social obstacles was no easy task to overcome. However, the organisational support and the myriad of Rhodes Welcome Week events, from social gatherings to academic discussions, assisted immensely in a transition process that can be somewhat daunting. The support offered not only facilitated great friendship but also gave purpose, direction and a sense of belonging in a community with a cause bigger than itself.

Walking through the hallways of the Oxford Colleges gives you palpitations to know that the likes of Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, J.R.R Tolkien (only to mention a few) spent their days here. From Harry Potter to The Mummy, numerous films were shot here. Besides all of this and perhaps most importantly, it is a place where the international community now converges and works together to push the boundaries of knowledge. It is a hub of science, literature, and art in the modern world that has the capability to influence vast landscapes throughout the globe.

It’s a privilege to study at Oxford, and as a proud new Rhodes Scholar, I understand that with great privilege, there comes great responsibility.

Kumeren obtained his MBChB and his Masters in Health Sciences simultaneously on a special dual-track programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2017. He has published peer-reviewed articles as an undergraduate and worked as a medical doctor at the New Somerset Hospital, Cape Town.

He is currently reading a DPhil in Clinical Medicine, as part of the Nuffield Department of Medicine, with interests in developing machine learning methods for improving clinical practice within hospitals. Govender hopes to bridge knowledge from developed worlds to developing worlds and contribute to pioneering innovative and interdisciplinary solutions that are globally relevant to ultimately improve the lives of those burdened by diseases.

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