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Winners emerge in Rhodes Scholarships for West Africa 

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Twenty-year-old Ghanaian Statistician, Emmanuelle Dankwa, and 24-year-old Nigerian Doctor, Toluwalase Awoyemi, have emerged winners of the 2018 Rhodes Scholarships for West Africa. The duo will be joining 93 others from around the world to commence studies at the prestigious University of Oxford, United Kingdom in October next year.
 
Dankwa and Awoyemi emerged tops among the 15 candidates that made the final shortlist.A total of 2,948 applications were received from intending scholars across the region out of which 244 that graduated with a First Class degree or its equivalent made it to the next round. Through further screening and in-person interviews the number was eventually pruned to 15.
 
Rhodes Scholars are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil John Rhodes, who established the scholarships in 1903. Academic excellence is a major prerequisite for selection but it is only a threshold condiπtion.  Other important criteria include moral force of character, commitment to service and the instinct to lead. 

   
Founder of Leap Africa and a member of the West Africa Selection Committee, Ndidi Nwuneli said, “All 15 finalists were remarkably brilliant with outstanding individual qualities but we could only select two. For Emmanuelle and Toluwalase, this is an award well deserved, and we have no doubt that they will go on to excel in their chosen field and do the continent proud.”
    
Dankwa graduated with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Ghana in July 2017, and currently serves as a Teaching Assistant at the Department of Statistics in the same institution. While as an undergraduate, she founded a plastic waste recycling advocacy group, which not only enlightened the university community on the benefits but also was actively involved in collection and removal of plastic waste from the university campus through a partnership with the local government and some plastic recycling firms.
 
Awoyemi graduated from the University of Ibadan (UI) in August 2016 as the Best Medical Student in his set, and was a recipient of 19 prizes at the institution’s convocation ceremony.
   
Rhodes Scholarships cover all university and college fees for Dankwa and Awoyemi, a personal stipend for room and board, health insurance and travel, as well as the costs of the Rhodes Leadership Development Programme at Rhodes House. 

An elated Dankwa, who intends to study Statistical Science in her first year at Oxford, said: “I am deeply honoured to be selected for this prestigious scholarship. It is, indeed, a rare opportunity, and I am determined to make the most of it for my personal advancement and, ultimately, for the betterment of my country and the world in general.”
 
On his part, Awoyemi, who is opting for International Health and Tropical Medicine as his preferred course of study, said: “I am truly grateful to my alma mater for helping me develop into the scholar that I am, and to the Rhodes Trust for the opportunity to further my studied at the University of Oxford. I feel like the entire continent is looking up to me, and I promise to work very hard to maximize this opportunity for my development and for the good of our people.”



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