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Otago student receives prestigious Rhodes scholarship


Wednesday 8 November 2017 8:42am

Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy with Rhodes scholarship winner Jean Balchin.

A prestigious Rhodes Scholarship has been awarded to University of Otago student Jean Balchin to carry out post-graduate study at the University of Oxford (UK).

Jean Balchin is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English Literature at the University of Otago.

A former teacher described Jean as the finest, most rewarding and highest achieving student in 28 years of teaching. The Otago Selection Panel said they could not have been more impressed by her potential to make a difference through her combination of her intellect, character and life story.

Jean’s passion is science communications. As an intern with the Science Media Centre, the country’s independent source of information for the media on all issues related to science, she wrote A History of NZ Science in 25 objects.

In addition, Jean is an accomplished pianist, exhibited artist, a performer and has a green belt in Judo. She is also an active volunteer with the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust and contributed to the Break the Silence series on youth suicide run by the New Zealand Herald earlier this year.

At Oxford she proposes to study a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) examining Social Darwinism. She says his theory of competition has been perverted to explain and justify status inequalities between different ethnic groups. She proposes a future career in education or academia.

Two other New Zealand students have been chosen as 2018 Rhodes Scholars elect; Jamie Beaton from Harvard University, and Marco de Jong from the University of Auckland.

In announcing the awards, the Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy congratulated the eight shortlisted candidates and said the Selection Panel faced a tough decision to choose three scholars from New Zealand.

“My warmest congratulations to our 2018 Rhodes scholars. Through the Rhodes scholarship you have the opportunity, as well as the character, academic ability, and passion, to make a real contribution to New Zealand and rest of the world, in your chosen field. I will follow your progress with great pride and interest.”

The Rhodes Scholarship provides transformative opportunities for exceptional all-round students to carry out postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. Today, 95 scholars are selected from 64 countries and go on to become part of the wider Rhodes scholarship community while at university, and throughout their lives.

Rhodes had a keen understanding of the importance of tertiary education. His vision in founding the Scholarship was to develop outstanding leaders who would be motivated to “fight the world's fight”, “esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim”, and promote international understanding and peace.

The Scholarship covers the students’ fees, accommodation and living costs for up to three years at Oxford, which is one of the oldest and top-ranked universities in the world.

For further information or to arrange interviews, contact:

Hazel Dobbie
Communications Manager
Universities NZ
Tel +64 27 838 2313

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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