2016 Rhodes Scholars

Ormond College alumni Bede Jones and Rebecca Duke have been awarded the 2017 Tasmanian and Victorian Rhodes Scholarship, respectively, for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford.

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest post-graduate scholarship in the world. Candidates are assessed against four broad selection criteria, as set forth by Cecil Rhodes – academic achievement, energy to use one’s talents to the fullest community service and devotion to duty, and moral force of character and instincts to lead.

In establishing the Scholarship, Rhodes aimed to find outstanding leaders to fight “the world’s fight,” to “esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim,” and to promote international understanding and peace.

The Master, Rufus Black, reflects ‘Ormond has always taken pride in the Rhodes Scholars who have come through the College not just because of their individual achievement but because the Scholarship represents the aspiration we have as a college to nurture all-rounders – people committed their studies, to a sporting and cultural life, and contributing to the community. While in any year we may be lucky to see a student or occasionally two recognised with this scholarship, every year we see so many students who demonstrate the aspiration the scholarship celebrates.’

Bede Jones (2011)

Bede was raised in Tasmania and completed his tertiary studies at the University of Melbourne on a Melbourne National Scholarship. He is a Palawa man and an Aurora Scholar with a passion for Aboriginal governance and nation building. His dedication to Indigenous social justice issues is evident in many of his activities. These include volunteering in the Athletes as Role Models program, volunteering at a non-profit that focuses on addressing Indigenous disadvantage, and his contribution to the inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan at Ormond College.

Bede has been invited to publish on the topic of reconciliation in Australia, and has supported key stakeholders on the design and development of the (emerging) National Assembly of First Nations. Bede currently works at PwC’s Indigenous Consulting and outside of work has a rich interest in political philosophy, international relations and transnational crime. Bede is a sports enthusiast with a love for boxing, soccer, and AFL.

“I grew up in Tasmania and moved to Melbourne to complete my tertiary education. I completed a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours in criminology and I also majored in philosophy. I really enjoyed studying philosophy because it encourages curiosity and it enabled me to explore topics I’m intrinsically interested in, like ethics, political philosophy, and concepts such as truth and justice. It also fosters important skills such as abstract and critical thinking, and reasoning. My criminology studies reflect my passion for social justice, and interests in generating positive social change through policy and legal frameworks.”

“I found my three years at Ormond to be an enriching and transformative experience. I enjoyed the wealth of extracurricular opportunities – sporting, cultural, and intellectual – and was stimulated by the conversations and different perspectives I encountered. I’m particularly grateful for the strong network of friends and mentors I acquired, and I’m sure these lasting relationships will continue long into the future.”

The Rhodes Scholarship will enable Bede to study at the University of Oxford, where he plans to undertake two degrees: Master of Science in Global Governance and Diplomacy and Master of Public Policy. “Being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship is an incredible opportunity and one that comes with a responsibility. A big part of being a Rhodes Scholar is about using your skills and capabilities to the benefit of others, and to make a difference to society,” explains Bede.

Bede is the second indigenous scholar from Australia.

Rebecca Duke (2014)

Rebecca completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) majoring in Psychology with first-class honours and graduated with a Diploma in Languages.

Bendigo-born, Rebecca is an accomplished ballet dancer and the recipient of several Ormond and university scholarships and academic awards. She is a regular volunteer at the Royal Children’s Hospital and also volunteers as a crisis counsellor.

Rebecca said she was thrilled to receive the prestigious scholarship and plans to undertake an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute. At Oxford, she plans to research the way internet-based technologies affect the educational engagement of young people with the aim of developing programs that address emerging challenges.

“My studies in psychology and philosophy have taught me the value of interdisciplinary approaches to education and research. My volunteer experience in early intervention at the Royal Children’s Hospital and my current work as a crisis counsellor have taught me the importance of stepping outside my own experience and cultivating awareness of the systemic obstacles many face in achieving their educational potential.”

Congratulating Rebecca on her achievement, Professor Carolyn Evans, Honorary Secretary of the Victorian Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, said “Rebecca is a very impressive young woman who was headed for an international career in ballet before deciding to take a more academic route. Her studies at Oxford will allow her to examine both the opportunities and perils for the Internet in engaging young people, particularly in education.

“This is a pressing issue and Rebecca brings the intellectual and personal skills to contribute new insights that will assist us in supporting young people in their engagement with the online world.”

Reference: The profile on Rebecca Duke is based on an article that first appeared in The University of Melbourne’s Newsroom on 27 October 2016.


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