New Rhodes Scholars to make Aotearoa proud

Two of the three Aotearoa New Zealand 2021 Rhodes Scholars announced today (19 November 2021) are University of Auckland graduates.

The University of Oxford. Photo: iStock

Dr Benjamin Alsop-ten Hove graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 2020, along with the Rotary Club of Auckland Award for the most distinguished medical student, which takes into account personal qualities and all-round abilities.

A first-year house officer at Whangārei Hospital in Northland, he is already a well-established and highly regarded champion of better resourced and more equitable health services in rural New Zealand.

Ben was a Local Hero Medal recipient in the 2019 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards for his contribution to promoting rural health careers to university students as well as more than 15,000 rural high school students. He was a co-founder and co-chair of Students of Rural Health Aotearoa (SoRHA) and is a past board member of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN). In 2018, he was president of the Grassroots Rural Health Club in Auckland.

His referees speak of his leadership skills, tenacity, firm sense of social justice and desire to give back to the community. These attributes, along with his commitment to rural New Zealand, date back to his high school days at Ellesmere College in the small town of Leeston on the Canterbury Plains.

Ben also advocated on behalf of student mental health and climate change issues while at Auckland. In 2019, he was Vice-President External of the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association.

At Oxford, Ben wants to study for a Master of Public Policy and Master of Science in Evidence-Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation. “This combination of programmes would enable me to support the development of an evidence-based health system that perpetuates equity and empowers tangata whenua and tauiwi,” he says.

2021 Rhodes Scholar Dr Benjamin Alsop-ten Hove

Zak Devey was this year awarded a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in sociology and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He is committed to realising the potential of the arts and creativity to improve the mental health and wellbeing of “communities whose lived experiences and perspectives are often valued the least”.

Co-founder of the charity Youth Arts New Zealand and founder of Te Kāhui, a creative writing programme for young inmates at Mt Eden Corrections Facility in Auckland, he is described by one of his referees as a “visionary of optimism and a champion of potential”.

Te Kāhui, which received a highly commended citation of service from Arts Access Aotearoa, “is focused on presenting storytelling, poetry and lyricism as platforms young inmates can use to reflect upon self and other”.

It has engaged more than 300 inmates and has received funding to expand nationally. As co-founder of Youth Arts New Zealand, Zak says he strives “to respond to Aotearoa’s youth mental illness epidemic by facilitating expression and reflection within student communities”.

Zak’s many prizes and scholarships at Auckland include a 2021 Senior Scholar Award for highest overall performance in the Bachelor of Arts programme, two Summer Research Scholarships (one of which was in his second year when they are awarded mostly only to third-year students) and a Blues Award for service and leadership. He has received two New Zealand Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia.

At Oxford, Zak wants to study for a joint Master of Science in Sociology and Master of Science in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation.

2021 Rhodes Scholar Zak Devey

Benjamin and Zak will join AUT graduate Monique Cooper at the University of Oxford in the UK as part of a cohort of more than 100 Rhodes Scholars from around the world.

The Rhodes Scholarships are postgraduate awards to support study at Oxford. Established in 1903, they are the oldest international graduate scholarship programme in the world.

Governor-General and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) from the University of Auckland, The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro praised three “really exceptional young people” who received the prestigious Rhodes.

“Driven by a desire to make a difference for the better, their strong sense of place and academic excellence, they will bring nuanced understandings of our contribution as a country to Oxford, to an international community of scholars and to leading international work in their fields.

"More importantly, they will continue to make us proud of being from Aotearoa New Zealand. I wish them every success with their future, which will undoubtedly be one of enormous value.”

In New Zealand, the Rhodes Scholarship application and selection process is managed by Universities New Zealand – Te Pokai Tara. Applications for 2023 close on 1 August 2022.

More information here.

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