Trinidadian named 2013 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes scholar
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday November 21, 2012 – 22-year-old Cornelius Neale of Trinidad and Tobago has been named the 2013 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar.
Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, said Neale won from a field of six candidates from Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Neale, from Marabella in San Fernando, south Trinidad, who intends to pursue a Masters in Environmental Change and Management, with an emphasis on Climate Change and its repercussions for the Caribbean, said he is “quite humbled by the moment.
“I am a bit speechless… It feels good to bring the award back to Trinidad, after some years. The first person I am going to call is my mum; I am a single child and she is a single parent, so she will be the first person to hear the good news,” Neale said.
He said he his “ambition for the Caribbean region” may have given him the edge over the other Caribbean students.
“My main area is energy and the environment. I plan on diversifying the region’s energy in terms of solar energy. That is my particular area of research, especially with Trinidad and Tobago and the hydrocarbons that we have been using.
“I have done my research on governmental housing to get away from the conventional oil and gas, and it is something that can be spread throughout the Caribbean, because we are blessed with a lot of solar and alternative energy. I think my ambition to drive the Caribbean forward into using renewable energy might be a key factor that may have played out today,” he said.
Secretary of the Selection Committee, Peter Goldson, a former Jamaica Rhodes Scholar, said all of the candidates were worthy, but Neale’s interview put him over the top.
He added that in addition to academic excellence, Rhodes Scholars must exhibit other characteristics, including leadership, concern for the weak, and a desire to give public service, and to make a difference in the world.
The scholarship covers tuition and living expenses to attend the University of Oxford in England. It is considered the most prestigious postgraduate scholarship in the world.
“We had to make sure that the candidates were of a very high calibre. The committee tries to test them to see who is the strongest. In our discussions at the end, there were a number of them who were in contention as the possible winner.
“But the committee thought that Mr. Neale was most deserving of the scholarship this year. We are delighted to have announced him as the winner and we are looking forward in the future to more applicants from Barbados because of the quality of its education system,” Goldson said.
Among the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship awardees in the past include the late Professor Rex Nettleford; Professor Trevor Monroe; Norman Manley and Chief Justice of Barbados, Marston Gibson.