Morehouse Student Among 2004 Rhodes ScholarsATLANTA
Late last month Oluwbusayo Folarin had only one more final at Morehouse College to take before going home to Grand Prairie, Texas, where he could begin to relish being named a Rhodes Scholar.
“I have not had a chance to really think about (being named a Rhodes Scholar) because I’m applying to Oxford and studying for finals, and I have all these responsibilities to the school concurrently, which is difficult,” says 22-year-old Folarin, a political science major who holds a 3.9 grade point average. “I’m so ready to go home because I’m mentally exhausted, and then I will be able to appreciate my accomplishments.”
Folarin, called “Tope” by friends and family, has spent more than the past year preparing for the world’s most prestigious and competitive scholarship that will take him to the University of Oxford in England to receive a master of philosophy in development studies or international relations.
He becomes one of three Morehouse graduates to receive the prestigious scholarship, which pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford, as well as during vacations, and provides transportation to and from England. The total value averages approximately $30,000 per year.
Working from a 10,000-word personal statement he began last summer, Folarin, with the help of Dr. Anne Watts, associate vice president for academic affairs, honed the statement down to the 1,000 required words.
“The personal statement is the centerpiece of the submission and is crucial to getting the attention of the selection committee, so we took it through many drafts,” says Watts, who also worked with Nima Warfield, who received the Rhodes in 1994, and Christopher Elders, who received it in 2002. “The applicant must be able to present himself to the committee in a compelling fashion.”
The Rhodes competition is no cakewalk. Folarin went up against 962 applicants endorsed by 366 of the best colleges and universities in the nation, including Harvard, Princeton, the Naval Academy and other Ivy League contenders. Scholars are chosen on the basis of high academic achievement, integrity of character, spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.
“A Morehouse education focuses on the development of the whole student — his intellect, knowledge of the world, personal growth and competency to lead others,” says Dr. Walter E. Massey, Morehouse president. “Over the years, our approach to education has produced some of the world’s most outstanding leaders. So, it is no surprise that it would also produce Rhodes Scholars, who are selected for that honor on the basis of many of the same qualities we stress at Morehouse.”
Although it is one of the greatest honors a hard-working student could ever receive, the history of the Rhodes is somewhat tainted.
The scholarship was founded in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and colonial pioneer who is sometimes called “the architect of apartheid.”
Rhodes first visited Africa in 1870 at the age of 17. By the time he reached 30, he had founded the De Beer diamond mining company that eventually made him a multimillionaire.
“During my time in South Africa in 2002, I learned a great deal about Cecil Rhodes, and I’m really disgusted by some of the things he did,” Folarin says. “But, I don’t think he was necessarily a racist. I think he was purely a capitalist person.
“God is providential, and I’m thankful that (Rhodes’) wealth has enabled me to receive this blessing and go on to Oxford.”
Jamaica native Simon Morrison was also named a Rhodes Scholar. The 22-year-old is a senior at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. He will spend two years studying at Oxford University where he hopes to get a master’s in history. Morrison is an English major who has done much of his work on post colonial literature.
In addition, Julia James, a senior chemistry major, is William Smith College’s first Rhodes Scholar. James, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has previously earned the nationally recognized Barry M. Goldwater award for excellence in science as well as the 2001, 2002 and 2003 American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholars award. She also was one of only 15 undergraduates to receive a 2003 United
Negro College Fund-Merck scholarship. — By Renita Mathis
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