UWI Open Campus student wins Rhodes Scholarship

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

2022 Rhodes Scholar Alyssa Mohammed

UWI Open Campus is celebrating its alumna Alyssa Mohammed, who has won the 2023 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship.

A media release from the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor and principal of the UWI Open Campus said Mohammed outperformed ten candidates from across the Caribbean.

Mohammed, a TT national, graduated in 2022 with a BSc in sociology with first-class honours. She is currently doing a postgraduate diploma in gender and development studies at UWI, St Augustine. Said to be passionate about gender equity, Mohammed hopes to work to advance the position of women in the Caribbean.

She said, “I have a long history of working for and volunteering with local nonprofit women’s organisations, especially Muslim women’s organisations, and I am very passionate about improving the gender inequality situation at home and at large.”

She hopes to study the MSc in sociology or the MPhil in sociology and demography at Oxford. She will take up her scholarship at the university in October 2023, and will be among a cohort of over 100 global scholars doing fully sponsored postgraduate studies.

She said, “I hope (it) will allow me to look at gender issues on a macro scale…the interconnections between gender and other institutions and social processes in society.

She hoped it will allow her “to make a tenable gender impact, especially in the areas of sexual health and reproductive rights and agency.”

Gary Asselberg, Mohammed’s teacher at Open Campus, and coach for the Rhodes Scholarship interview, hoped all Open Campus students follow her path to learning.

That path, he said, “is the ability to grasp core concepts in one context and then apply that knowledge in an unrelated context to produce a fresh and exciting explanation of how things are and why. Her ability for transference is a talent that is difficult to teach, yet Alyssa did learn, and so can you.

“She intuitively understood the concept of confirming negatives, that a failed investigation has the potential to bring us closer to the truth.

“These character traits are a prerequisite if one is to thrive under the spotlight as a young leader for gender issues in the Caribbean.”

Pro vice-chancellor and principal at Open Campus Dr Francis Severin was delighted by the news.

He said, “Alyssa’s accomplishment in this rigorous and competitive Rhodes Scholarship, underscores the critical importance of the Open Campus, its mission of empowering the hitherto under-served in the Caribbean, and unequivocally proves that those who do not see the value of the Open Campus beyond the ‘conventional’ towns and cities, are tragically misguided and deluded.

“Alyssa Mohammed bears incontrovertible witness to our tremendous value. Well done!”

The release said the Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and most prestigious international scholarship programme. The Rhodes Scholar is chosen based on stringent criteria, including academic achievement, personal energy, a desire to make a difference and the capacity to collaborate with others to accomplish one’s goals.