Luke Browne grabs Rhodes Scholarship
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November 23, 2007
Luke Browne grabs Rhodes Scholarship

For the first time ever, a Vincentian has been awarded a Rhodes scholarship. Robert Theodore Luke Vincent Browne, 22, has been awarded the prestigious two-year postgraduate scholarship to Oxford University.{{more}}

An obviously elated Browne told Searchlight that the fact that his success has caused the nation to celebrate is something that he values. “Since I have been awarded, the number of Vincentians from all walks of life who have either been in contact with me or my parents or family, is just overwhelming. I think that the greatest success that an individual could enjoy is a success that everyone shares in.”

Browne was named the 2008 Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholar following an interview process on Tuesday at Government House in Barbados. He said during the one hour, ten minute interview, which he described as “arduous”, he was quizzed on a wide range of topics including his impression on what development is; his thoughts on how poverty could be eliminated or reduced in the Caribbean; his experience as the President of the Guild of Students of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill from 2006-2007; whether he had aspirations of becoming prime minister of his country; his weaknesses, among other topics.

Browne is in his final year of reading for a BSc degree in Mathematics and Economics at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, and from all reports, is well on the way to graduating with First Class Honours. He plans to read for a Masters in Philosophy in Development Studies at Oxford, continuing to a Ph.D. in the same field, followed by studies in Law.

The young scholar said his ultimate objective is “to become a public servant of the highest order,” probably a prime minister or ambassador, but definitely working for the benefit of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines or the wider Caribbean.

Luke told Searchlight that he feels that his education and experiences thus far, in addition to that which he hopes to acquire at Oxford would be good preparation.

“The M.Phil at Oxford will offer courses in Economics, Social Anthropology, History and Politics. When you fit those into Mathematics and Economics in my undergraduate degree … I would be able to study the Vincentian economy, society from different angles, both qualitative and quantitative and make recommendations that would propel St. Vincent and the Caribbean along the path to development.”

Luke, the winner of a St. Vincent and the Grenadines national scholarship in 2004, is the second son and fifth child born to Lawyer R. Theodore L.V. Browne and his wife, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Laura Browne. He credits the support of his family for his success. “I think that my parents have always shaped my aspirations, and not only have they shaped them, they have ensured that I have the means to pursue whatever dreams I have. The incentives that they have offered ever since I was in primary school have been enough to make sure that this is something that I should value. I think once I begin to value something, it is probably in my nature to do it the best that I can.”

Besides his outstanding academics and leadership qualities, Luke is also a talented poet, athlete, cricketer, footballer and swimmer. He shared that he is able to maintain so many different interests at such a high standard because of his outlook. “I draw no distinction. I think performing well in the classroom is no different than performing well on the sports field…. What I am involved in is all for that moment that I am concerned about. The ability to see all things as equal, and not exalt one above the other, has been important in me being rounded.”

Peter Goldson, Jamaica and Caribbean secretary of the Rhodes Trust and secretary to the selection committee said that there were usually 10 to12 applicants who are then short listed to the final six who faced a long interview process.

The final six were Andre Coombs, Stefan Punnette and Kerolyn Shairsingh of Trinidad and Tobago, Hazra Medica of Antigua and Maria Kodilinye of Barbados.

This year, the selection committee comprised Governor General of Barbados Sir Clifford Husbands, Goldson, Professor Christine Barrow, Dr. Geoff Frankson, Professor Trevor Munroe and Dr. Desiree Cox of the Bahamas.

According to the stipulation of the Rhodes Trust, the selection of scholars should be based on academic ability; sporting activity; qualities of personal rectitude, strength and compassion; and sense of the public good.

There have been over 7,000 Rhodes Scholars since the inception of the Trust in 1902. Famous Rhodes scholars include former President of the United States Bill Clinton, Professor Rex Nettleford of the University of the West Indies, former Chief Minister and Premier of Jamaica Norman Manley, musician and actor Kris Kristofferson and American author and feminist social critic Naomi Wolf.

Approximately 90 scholars are selected worldwide each year, with 1 from the Commonwealth Caribbean (excluding Jamaica) and one from Jamaica.