Waikato student wins Rhodes Scholarship

Tuesday 25 October 2011, 10:30AM
By University of Waikato


Waikato University student Briar Thompson is one of three New Zealanders to have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University next year.

Briar Thompson is completing her Bachelor of Communication Studies (Honours) at Waikato Management School, majoring in Public Relations.

At Oxford she intends to study for a one-year MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies followed by a one-year MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy. She is particularly interested in migration, security and diplomacy issues relevant to the Pacific region.

Rhodes Scholarships constitute the pinnacle of achievement for university graduates wishing to pursue postgraduate study at one of the world’s leading universities. The awards are administered by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara.

Ms Thompson says it’s a real honour to be selected. “The pool of candidates was of such a high calibre. This is a tremendous opportunity and I’m excited about going there and making the most of what the Rhodes Scholarship and Oxford have to offer.”

Ms Thompson’s academic advisor Associate Professor Shiv Ganesh says he’s absolutely delighted with the Rhodes Scholarship award. “Briar is truly one of the most outstanding students I have encountered in the 17 years that I have taught at the university level, both here and in the United States,” he says. “I cannot think of a more deserving recipient than she.”

The former Whangarei Girls’ High Dux has Ngāpuhi affiliations. “On my first day of secondary school the school’s kaumātua issued a challenge to the Māori students to change the statistics on poor Māori performance and to make the most of the educational opportunities on offer. I took his words to heart and endeavoured to meet that challenge. All the way through I’ve been blown away by the support I’ve had from family, friends and the University of Waikato.”

Ms Thompson has also worked hard in the community to make a difference. She was on the Young People’s Reference Group for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, she’s been a Māori mentor at Waikato University, and this year has been volunteering with Refugee Services to assist a Colombian family who arrived in New Zealand in June.