David Salmon, MPhil student in Development Studies, and Yonatan Gideoni, MPhil in Advanced Computer Science, were both selected, and are among 104 exceptional young people who will begin the postgraduate scholarship programme at the University of Oxford in autumn of 2023.
Scholars-Elect for the Rhodes Scholarship this year come from 31 different countries and speak 40 languages, bringing together “future leaders from across the world to foster international understanding and cross-border friendships”.
David Salmon (Jamaica)
“I was elated to be selected as Jamaica’s Rhodes Scholar,” says David Salmon, “as this has been a dream of mine since I was 15 years old.”
After being inspired by a visit to his school in Jamaica by Tariq Parker, a 2015 Rhodes Scholar, David meticulously planned and prepared for his application over several years, researching the journeys of previous Scholars, and building a career in public service. Now that he’s been successful, David says he plans to “use the knowledge and skills learned to impact Jamaica and other developing countries in the global community”.
“I am aiming to pursue a DPhil in International Development in order to study industrial upgrading within global value chains,” he says. “After completing this goal, I intend to return to the Caribbean to contribute to policy making by serving in development-oriented institutions such as the Caribbean Development.”
David arrived at Wolfson last year after a recommendation from his mentor and high school economics teacher, Selvyn Gilbert, who studied Development Studies at Wolfson in 1989.
“He strongly recommended the College, as he regarded it as one of the best places to meet lifelong friends and grow intellectually. I am happy I acted on his recommendation as this has been an unforgettable experience.
“My year at Wolfson College has been a phenomenal experience. From interacting with such genuine, interesting and thoughtful individuals, to sampling a fine array of meals at College, to getting to know the faculty, there are several remarkable moments that I have experienced here at College. I believe that I have learned new perspectives in approaching, thinking about and tackling issues which greatly aided me in the interview for the Rhodes Scholarship.”
Last year, David won the Youth Musgrave Medal at the annual awards by the Institute of Jamaica: a special category for outstanding young people 18 to 25 years, who show continued outstanding scholarship, creativity, and community service.
David picked up his award for limiting the fallout from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting revision sessions in 2020 for 400 students, who were preparing to sit external examinations. He also planned the donation of 1,350 books for rural youth in the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland, and St. Andrew.
Yonatan Gideoni (Israel)
For Yonatan Gideoni, MPhil in Advanced Computer Science, and one of two Rhodes Scholars from Israel, the selection came as quite a surprise, too.
“It was obviously a huge shock and an amazing honour,” he says, “I almost fainted when they announced it. I feel extremely lucky and privileged for getting this, privileged to have interacted with so many wonderful people that made me be who I am today. I hope that during my DPhil and later I'll be such a figure for others as well.”
At Oxford, Yonatan will pursue a DPhil in Computer Science, working on “various foundational questions and applications of deep learning”.
“Afterwards, I want to be an academic that's also heavily involved in the industry,” he says, “as this allows one to both have freedom of thought while making their ideas be impactful. This is especially true in these fields, where too often these tools’ broader impact isn't considered.”
Yonatan arrived at Wolfson in 2022. He was at first unsure whether to go to Oxford or Cambridge for his masters, but was happy with his eventual decision, and now gets to experience both worlds.
“The people at Wolfson are wonderful,” he says, “it's amazing being in such a diverse and pleasant community.”
Yonatan has previously been a mentor for FIRST – a global robotics community that inspires young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills – and Machshava Tova, training mentors in how to engage students from underprivileged backgrounds in STEM through robotics. He has also taught at the Israeli Arts and Science Academy.
Doron Weber, National Secretary for the Rhodes Scholarships for Israel, said: “At a time when Israel is grappling with so many challenges, it’s heartening to encounter such brilliant and idealistic leaders determined to improve their society.”
To find out about postgraduate study at Wolfson, visit our Postgraduate Study pages.
Find out more about The Rhodes Scholarship on their website.