Written by Magdalena Zapędowska, Fries Center for Global Studies
We congratulate Fitzroy (Pablo) Wickham ‘21 on being named the 2021 Rhodes Scholar for Jamaica.
One of the most prestigious awards, the Rhodes funds two to three years of postgraduate study in any degree program at Oxford University. Applicants are evaluated based on academic excellence, other talents demonstrated in extracurricular activities, and outstanding leadership, as well as character and commitment to others and common good.
Pablo is the fourth Wesleyan student since 2000 to win the Rhodes Scholarship. Previous scholars were Kim-Marie Spence ‘00 (for Jamaica), Russel Perkins ’09 (for the U.S.), and Claudia Kahindi ‘18 (for Kenya).
Pablo shared his experiences and plans in an interview with Magdalena Zapędowska, Assistant Director for Fellowships in the Fries Center for Global Studies.
MZ: Congratulations on winning the Rhodes Scholarship for Jamaica! It’s one of the most competitive awards and one of the few open to international students. What experiences prepared you to apply?
PW: I am currently a senior Neuroscience and Theatre double major with a minor in Chemistry. I am a research assistant in the Naegele Lab on campus, where I conduct stem cell research to treat temporal lobe epilepsy in mice.
Certainly my strong academic performance which dates all the way back to high school and beyond would have prepared me to be scholastically competitive, since most Rhodes constituencies require that you have a GPA of 3.7 or higher. I was head boy in high school and I continued to take on leadership roles here at Wesleyan. I served as a senator on the WSA for two years, was an RA for two years and I am now the Senior Class President, Head Resident for Foss Hill and a senior member on the Community Standards and Honor Boards. My involvement in Mock Trial, student theatre, club volleyball and YAADI (Jamaican club) showcased my ability to use my talents to the fullest extent.
MZ: What motivated you to apply, and what are your hopes for studying at Oxford?
PW: I applied for the Rhodes Scholarship because I believed I met all four tenets emphasized by the program: academic achievement, use of talents to the fullest, strong moral character and leadership. I also remembered my high school principal, Mr Raymon Treasure, telling us at York Castle that Jamaica’s first Rhodes Scholar was a Yorkist. At the beginning of this year, my pre-college counselor, Dr. Dennis Minott, encouraged me to apply. So, at the end of the summer I decided to give it a shot after doing further research and speaking with you.
I have hopes of pursuing an MPhil and DPhil in Neuroscience at Oxford. I am excited not only to work with some incredible researchers, but to parley with some of the most brilliant minds from around the world, who, like me, have dreams of changing the world.
MZ: Could you tell me about your long-term plans and aspirations? What impact do you want to have on the world?
PW: I want to inspire rural youth from Jamaica to tap into their full potential and chase after their wildest dreams. A mission of mine is to increase awareness of mental health and child neurological disorders in Jamaica. Ultimately, I do hope to establish my own neuroscience research laboratory and practice back home.
Finally, Lin-Manuel Miranda has been such an inspiration to me and, as such, I want to greatly influence Jamaica’s theater landscape.
MZ: Thank you for speaking with me, Pablo! We at the Fries Center for Global Studies are excited for you, and we wish you all the best in your studies at Oxford. We hope this experience creates wonderful opportunities for you.
Read the story on Pablo’s winning the Rhodes Scholarship in The Wesleyan Connection.