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Rhodes Scholars Elect For 2008

19 October 2007

Rhodes Scholars Elect For 2008

Amanda Gilbertson, Jesse Wall and Julia Matheson have been selected as Rhodes Scholars following a selection meeting at Government House in Wellington last night.

Tenable at Oxford University, Rhodes Scholarships constitute the pinnacle of achievement for university graduates wishing to pursue postgraduate study at one of the world’s leading universities. In this country, the awards are administered by the NZ Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.

Amanda Gilbertson is a Victoria University of Wellington graduate who has completed a Master of Arts degree in anthropology, having earlier graduated with a BA (Hons) with first class honours in anthropology. Born in South Africa, she grew up in Swaziland and represented that country in international swimming competitions. After moving to this country, Amanda attended Hillcrest High School in Hamilton and then enrolled in a BA at the University of Waikato. She shifted to Wellington for her second year of studying, embarking on a design degree at Massey to pursue an interest in photography while continuing her BA at Victoria.

This study programme resulted in Amanda discovering visual anthropology and her research project for her honours year explored the role of photography in anthropology. The subject of her master’s research was Indian New Zealanders. At Oxford, Amanda will study towards a DPhil in anthropology and intends to base herself in India to pursue ethnographic research. Eventually she wants to take up a career in academia with a focus on disseminating knowledge to non-academic audiences. Amanda is a volunteer at the Suzanne Aubert Compassion Centre soup kitchen and serves in a similar role for a refugee resettlement programme.

Jesse Wall is currently undertaking a LLB (Hons) and BA in philosophy at the University of Otago. He attended Palmerston North Boys’ High School, is actively involved in surf life saving, received a Queen’s Medal (NZ Boys’ Brigade) in 2002 for services to the community and assisted with the establishment of the Yellow Ribbon (youth suicide awareness) programme. Jesse’s other interests include hockey (Otago and Manawatu representative), debating, surfing, painting and photography. He founded the NZ Law Students’ Journal in 2006.

President of the Otago University Hockey Club, Jesse has also served in that role for the Otago University Debating Society. Last year he received an Otago Law Faculty Scholarship for grade point average. Jesse will begin his postgraduate study at Oxford with a BCL, attending courses in comparative human rights law, comparative public law, constitutional theory and jurisprudence. He hopes the one-year taught programme will develop his insight into socio-economic issues facing countries like New Zealand. Jesse will then study towards a MPhil requiring a research dissertation. He hopes to eventually work as a legal advisor in the New Zealand public sector and is also interested in making a contribution as an academic.

Dr Julia Matheson has a MB ChB with Distinction from the University of Otago and won the Emily Hancock Siedeberg Memorial Prize for the female student with the highest overall performance in all years of the course. She attended Columba College in Dunedin where she was Dux and Head Prefect, gaining an A bursary with scholarship grades in all six subjects. Music is one of Julia’s interests; she has had a long association with the Knox Church choir and plays piano, violin and cello.

She also enjoys skiing, tramping, kayaking, biking and swimming. Julia had a childhood ambition to be a doctor and used her medical elective at the end of her final year of study to develop her interest in surgery.

She worked in a specialised hand surgery unit in Sydney and spent six weeks at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford’s oldest hospital, where she gained experience in all major areas of plastic surgery.

A general surgical rotation has been a highlight of Julia’s first year as a house surgeon. When she returns to Oxford, she will apply for the one-year Master of Science in Integrated Immunology and then pursue a DPhil in the area of surgical management of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, both significant health problems in New Zealand.

Julia’s longterm goal is to work in this country as a specialist clinician with an on-going interest in research and teaching.


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