Claremont McKenna College Senior From Africa Named Rhodes Scholar
CLAREMONT, Calif., Oct. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — For the second time in three years, and fourth time in Claremont McKenna College’s history, a student from the elite liberal arts college has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, the most competitive and prestigious scholarship in the world.
Bertha Tobias ’23, an International Relations major with a sequence in Leadership Studies, is Claremont McKenna’s second consecutive female Rhodes Scholar, and first ever of African descent. Tobias was one of eight finalists from the Rhodes Trust’s region designated as Southern Africa, comprised of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, and Eswatini (BLNMS countries), all of which were competing for a single scholarship allocated for those five countries.
Born and raised in Namibia, Tobias will head to the University of Oxford in England to begin her graduate studies next fall. She plans to pursue two Masters of Science: one in Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment, and a second degree in Water Science, Policy and Management. “This is because my academic interest is energy and national resource management in emerging economies,” Tobias explained.
“Words cannot describe how grateful I am for everyone who rallied around me during the rigorous selection process,” Tobias said. “My biggest hope is that all young people will see themselves reflected in this win, and that they are emboldened to dare greatly and consistently, despite what the world has said about them – dreams come true.”
The Rhodes Scholarship is awarded across four main criteria: academic excellence; energy to use talents to the full (as demonstrated by mastery in various areas); truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness, and fellowship; and moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in their fellow human beings.
The Rhodes Scholar criteria aligns closely with Claremont McKenna College’s mission to prepare responsible students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leaders in business, government, and the professions.
“Bertha is a force of nature: a strong and capable leader who throws herself into all manner of projects ranging from the creative (she produced an innovative television show called Spotlight, which highlights and amplifies youth entrepreneurs in Namibia), to the intellectual (writing opinion pieces on green energy for The Namibian, the oldest and largest newspaper in Namibia), to the social (helping lead the #shutitalldown national movement against Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Namibia),” said Brian Davidson ’08, Interim Director of the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum and Director of Fellowship Advising at Claremont McKenna College. “Bertha is somebody who I think has the potential to be a truly transformative leader in Namibia and Southern Africa, and so I’m delighted that the Rhodes Trust has chosen to invest in her. It will pay off.”
Previous Rhodes Scholars from Claremont McKenna are Ryan Iwasaka ’94, Paul Schulz ’85, and Sarah Chen ’22.
Dave Eastburn, Claremont McKenna Media Relations
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