Young Samoan awarded ticket to Oxford University

posted: 2:30 pm - 9th November 2017
Rhodes Scholars Her Excellency with Marco de Jong gg nov17 rhodes 018

Photo credit: Universities NZ (Marco de Jong with NZ Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy)

Prestigious Rhodes Scholarships have been awarded to three outstanding young New Zealand graduates, to carry out post-graduate study at the University of Oxford (UK). Among the recipients is Marco de Jong, a young Auckland Samoan student, who will study a Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford.  

The Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt. Hon Dame Patsy Reddy announced the awards and congratulated the eight shortlisted candidates and said the Selection Panel faced a tough decision to choose three scholars from New Zealand.

“My warmest congratulations to our 2018 Rhodes scholars. Through the Rhodes scholarship you have the opportunity, as well as the character, academic ability, and passion, to make a real contribution to New Zealand and rest of the world in your chosen field. I will follow your progress with great pride and interest.”

Marco, aged 22, studied at Auckland Grammar, before completing a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and is currently completing a Master of Arts at the University of Auckland.

Marco’s Samoan ancestry has helped him find a passion for the Pacific by learning and studying Gagana Sāmoa. 

With others, he formed and energised the University’s History Society, of which he is currently President.  Through the school’s outreach programme he has visited 50 schools, engaged with low decile schools and encouraged Pacific students to study Pacific history. He is also a Tuākana, mentoring all undergraduate Māori and Pacific history students, which has made a huge difference for dozens of students.

At Oxford, Marco hopes to study a DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) under New Zealand historian and fellow Rhodes Scholar, James Belich. He proposes to focus on climate change diplomacy and wants to become a force for the Pacific people through either education, academia or diplomacy, to ensure decisions are made with, and not for, islanders.

The Rhodes Scholarship provides transformative opportunities for exceptional all-round students, to carry out postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. Today, 95 scholars were selected from 64 countries and go on to become part of the wider Rhodes

Scholarship community while at university, and throughout the rest of their lives.

The Scholarship covers the students’ fees, accommodation and living costs for up to three years at Oxford, which is one of the oldest and top-ranked universities in the world. One of Marco’s referees is Associate Professor Toesulusulu Damon Salesa.

The 2018 Rhodes Scholarship recipients are Jean Balchin from the University of Otago, Jamie Beaton from Harvard University, and Marco de Jong from the University of Auckland.

The Ministry congratulates Marco and the other two recipients for their achievements and wishes them all the best for their future studies.