Cape Town - Nine South Africans were awarded prestigious Rhodes Scholarships for their work on impacting positively on the lives of fellow South Africans and commitment to making a difference in the world.
Notable South African Rhodes Scholars included, amongst others, current Economic advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa Trudi Makhaya, former CEO of Standard Bank Jacko Maree, former Vice-Chancellor of UCT Dr Max Price, former Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Belinda van Heerden,
“We are excited by this cohort of Rhodes Scholars-Elect: outstanding young graduates, from universities across the region, who have studied diverse disciplines, ranging from ICT, to entrepreneurship, to Occupational Therapy, Medicine and Social Work, to engineering. We are inspired by their energy, leadership potential, and commitment to making a positive contribution and impact in Africa and beyond," said National Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships in Southern Africa, Ndumiso Luthuli.
Rhodes Scholarships, which were set up following a bequest in the will of the late Cecil John Rhodes who died in 1902, are awarded to young graduates of outstanding intellect and character, with proven leadership abilities and a commitment to service. The awards are granted to holistic all-rounders and are based on talent and excellence.
Raised by a single and unemployed parent in Johannesburg South, 23-year-old Kgosietsile Diphokwane defied the odds and graduated with a BA Honours in Development Studies and a BCom in Economics, Finance and Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand. Kgosietsile is passionate about driving development through enterprise. Kgosietsile is completing his Masters of Management degree in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation at Wits Business School.
Emma Dreyer, 23, was awarded the St Andrew’s College and Partner Schools Rhodes Scholarship for 2020. A University of Cape Town (UCT) graduate, Dreyer graduated with a BSc in Occupational Therapy and is a member of the Golden Key Society. Emma’s aims to use her post-graduate education at Oxford to improve her insight into effective education and social development strategies.
Lisha Jeena, 26, was honoured as UKZN’s Distinguished Student in her year. Jeena founded the UKZN Médecins Sans Frontières student organisation and pioneered health screening initiatives in underprivileged communities. Jeena aspires to further her interest in public health and infectious disease at Oxford University. She seeks to register for an MSc International Health and Tropical Medicine at Oxford University.
Twenty-three-year-old Nerissa Naidoo obtained her Bachelor of Laws degree summa cum laude from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and was awarded a post-graduate Fulbright Scholarship. She recently graduated with a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Harvard University. "Having grown up with a smartphone in my hand, I am invested in defending fundamental freedoms both online and off, particularly those of minorities navigating a digital world," said Naidoo.
Seluleko Ngcobo, 23, grew up in rural KwaZulu-Natal. Seluleko studied and attained his Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2017 from UKZN. Seluleko is interested in reading for his doctorate with special focus on investigating masculinities and health-seeking behaviours. Ngcobo is heavily involved with NGO’s such as Aidswize and engaging with fellow students at other South African universities and vocational training Colleges where he raises awareness about HIV.
Muhammed Razzak, 23, is completing a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. Razzak is deeply passionate about using engineering to find solutions to challenges faced by communities on the African continent. He has done stints at a top-tier management consultancy and in the engineering industry. At Oxford University, Muhammed intends to further his studies in engineering.
Tala Ross, 21, graduated with a BSc in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Cape Town. At Oxford, Tala is hoping to complete an MSc in Computer Science, focusing on artificial intelligence paradigms and their mathematical foundations. She is passionate about using technology to address challenges faced by marginalised communities.
Andrew Tucker, 22, is currently taking a year out of his MBBCh/medical studies to complete a BMedSci Honours degree, in Neuroscience at the University of Cape Town. His fascination for the brain and the nervous system started when he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome – a rare autoimmune disorder of the peripheral nervous system. It left Andrew temporarily paralysed and unable to walk or even write his name. Andrew intends to read for an MSc Neuroscience at Oxford University.
MS NATALI VAN ZIJL
Natali van Zijl is currently an engineering Master’s student at Stellenbosch University. Her current research focuses on improving the interpretability of causality maps for fault identification in chemical and mineral processing plants. Van Zijl is hoping to conduct research on the modelling of cerebral blood flow and metabolism and hopes to read for a DPhil Engineering Science.