Jelani Munroe is 2018 Rhodes scholar

Associate editor-features

Friday, November 17, 2017

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HE attended high school on a Government scholarship and read for his first degree on a fully funded award from Stanford University.

Yesterday, 23-year-old Jelani Munroe won yet another scholarship — the Jamaica Rhodes Scholarship for 2018 — which he will use to finance an MPhil in development studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Governor-general Sir Patrick Allen made the announcement at King's House yesterday afternoon following a round of interviews by a panel of former Rhodes scholars.

“Jelani, based on his academic record and his performance today (yesterday), is clearly someone who is very intelligent and concerned about helping the less privileged in Jamaica. He's a young man who is full of energy, full of dynamism, and we believe he will really make an impact in Jamaica in years to come,” secretary of the selection committee Peter Goldson said when asked why Munroe stood out among the 10 short-listed candidates.

He conceded, however, that the award could have gone to any of the candidates.

“We had an outstanding field this year... It's not every year that any one of the candidates could have been chosen as a Rhodes scholar and would make Jamaica proud. Both the candidates from overseas and the candidates from The UWI (University of the West Indies), they were an exceptionally outstanding bunch and Jelani was just that much more outstanding,” Goldson said.

The 10 candidates were whittled down from 17 applicants.

“You'd have been proud of every one of them, to see them in action,” Sir Patrick said of the field of candidates.

“You would just be charmed by their brilliance and by their vision. I feel so good because I know that we're going to have a great Jamaica with these millenials stepping into our shoes.”

Munroe is the son of Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel Erica Boswell-Munroe and Clive Munroe, of law firm Munroe & Munroe.

“Mi glad bag buss!” Munroe-Boswell told the Jamaica Observer when she arrived at Kings House to pick up her son yesterday and was greeted with the good news.

“He has always been a very good student, but I prefer to think of Jelani as a nice person rather than a bright person. He is very photographic with his memory, but his thing has always been being nice,” she said.

Munroe holds a bachelor's in economics and public policy (development and growth policy) and a certificate in general management, both from Stanford. While at Campion College, where he was head boy, he received five grade ones in Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Education, and nine in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate, with his English literature grade being the fifth highest in the Caribbean at the time. Munroe's grades were almost identical to those of his twin brother, Jabari, who is a medical doctor at St Ann's Bay Hospital.

Prior to Campion he attended Mona Prep and Jamaica House Basic schools.

He is currently employed as the financial manager of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and chief executive officer of its student entrepreneurship education arm — Stanford Student Enterprises.

The other contenders for the 2018 Jamaica Rhodes Scholarship were Shaniel May, Norman Manley Law School; Peta-Gay Facey, Norman Manley Law School; Zahra Henry, Ministry of Culture; Jevon Henry, Department of Economics, The UWI Western Campus; Jacob Phillips, The UWI Barbados; Gabrielle Pierre, University of Georgia; Marissa Webber, Princeton University; Stefan Richards, University of London; and Keenan Falconer, The UWI.

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