6 Rhodos l August 2012
tAlented wRiteRs with Open minds
Graham McNaughton (left) and Lillian Reuters. Photo: Paul Greenway By Michael Sutherns The de beers English Olympiad scholarship may be privy to students who are gifted writers, but it certainly does not discriminate on the basis of interests. the availability of such scholarships is clearly furthering the diversity of the students attending rhodes University, as well as opening up opportunities for students who are looking for that slightly unusual combination in an undergraduate degree that might just give them the edge when it comes to making choices for postgraduate study and ultimately their careers. this year rhodes welcomed 10 exceptional students who had been granted a scholarship for their first year of study through the de beers English Olympiad competition. the English Olympiad started in 1976, when the South african Council for English Education (SaCEE) asked dr malcolm venter to organise a small competition for local students in the Eastern Cape with a cash prize of r50. by 1978, the competition had extended to the entire country and de beers assumed the main sponsorship responsibilities in 1985. Since then, the number of participants has continued to rise steadily, from its humble origins of 119 students, to nearly 7 300 participants this year. lillian reuters, who is the recipient of one such scholarship, says that rhodes is a good stepping stone to bigger things. the westerford high School matriculant had planned to stay in her home province and attend the University of Cape town, but the offer of a scholarship at rhodes also came with the temptation to take up an unusual combination of interfaculty subjects. realising that this is just one of the advantages of studying at a smaller institution that allows a greater degree of flexibility, lillian launched with great enthusiasm into drama, maths, Cell biology and Classical Civilizations as her first year credits. She quips that she might just be the first girl to do a "bSc drama!" the young thespian has already managed to hold two roles in different productions this year, and took part in the National arts festival. St andrew's old-boy graham mcNaughton took advantage of his success to choose a university close to home and with "a great reputation internationally". he says that he expected life to be intense, both socially and academically, but he has found that rhodes has "provided a unique experience with generous doses of both". graham has entered into a completely distinct sphere of study, that of information technology. with first year subject choices of physics, maths and Computer Science, it might not be long before he fulfils his hopes of becoming the CEO of his own advertising company, earning a phd and travelling abroad. rhodes has been a long-standing sponsor of the Olympiad, making funds available for scholarships to all participants who place in the top 50, provided they meet all other university requirements. with this firm partnership in place, rhodes will continue to educate topnotch students and accommodate unusual subject combinations across faculties where possible. this is one of rhodes' unique features and interfaculty collaborations are not just allowed but also encouraged.