A student of The University of the West Indies (UWI) has once again won the prestigious Jamaica Rhodes Scholarship for 2013. Vincent Taylor, a 22-year-old computer scientist from the Mona campus of The UWI, was selected from a field of 11 finalists (five male and six female candidates), after two gruelling days of interviews.
"I am extremely elated and also humbled by the confidence that the committee has placed in me," Taylor said after the announcement by Jamaica's Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen.
The holder of a double major degree in computer science and electronics, Taylor is currently reading for a Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) at the Mona campus, specialising in wireless network sensor security; and intends to continue in the field of network security while at Oxford University, where the Rhodes Scholarship is tenable.
In the 64 years since the founding of The UWI, more than 60 of its graduates have won the highly regarded Rhodes scholarship.
Hailing from the rural parish of St Elizabeth, Taylor also paid tribute to his fellow finalists and encouraged them to apply again for the award. "This is my second time around and I hit the jackpot," he quipped. He also thanked his parents, teachers and peers for their support in helping him to achieve the award.
"Technology is becoming pervasive across the world and we need to have our networks secured so that our personal information and transactions will be safe," Taylor added.
The Governor-General announced that the selection process was one of the hardest they have had because of the many brilliant candidates this year. He also mentioned that because of the high quality of the candidates, at the recommendation of the selection committee, another candidate, Dr Katherine Innis, was sent to Barbados to compete for the Commonwealth Caribbean Rhodes Scholarship. However, a Trinidadian graduate of The UWI, Cornelius Kiron Neale, emerged the winner of that award.
Secretary of the selection committee Peter Goldson (a Rhodes scholar in 1985), said the committee members were "very impressed" with the calibre of candidates this year.
"It does say something encouraging about The University of the West Indies and our educational system when there are so many brilliant young men and women, who have done so well," he remarked.
Taylor said he chose to do his first degree at The UWI because it only takes three years, as opposed to four, and he would be one year ahead of his counterparts. Secondly, the approach that The UWI takes in its computer courses is similar to that of leading universities such as MIT, "so I saw no reason to go overseas to do my first degree," he explained.
In recognition of the centenary of the foundation of the Rhodes Trust in 2004, four Oxford alumni were awarded honorary degrees by the university, including the late Professor Rex Nettleford, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, author, dancer and choreographer.