The Governor of NSW, Margaret Beazley, this week announced the election of Benjamin Jones as the NSW Rhodes Scholar Elect for 2021. The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and possibly the most prestigious international scholarship program, enabling outstanding young people to study at Oxford University.
Mr Jones intends to undertake a Master of Science in International Health and Tropical Medicine and a Master of Science in Global Health and Epidemiology at Oxford. He says his vision is for a world where those who most need health care receive it. He hopes to drive systematic transformation of the inequities that exist within our health system, especially for young Indigenous Australians.
“I feel so thankful for the support network I have around me,” he said. “There are so many people, whether it be family, friends and community, or colleagues and mentors, here at UNSW that have played pivotal roles in my journey so far.
“I have really enjoyed my time at UNSW Medicine. It’s an incredible environment to be in, with a diverse, energetic cohort of students and an understanding, inspiring faculty. The support I have received from not only the UNSW Medicine team, but also senior management at the University, the UNSW Residential Colleges, The Balnaves Foundation, Nura Gili and, of course, Arc@UNSW [the student organisation] over the years has been incredible.”
The Dean of UNSW Medicine, Professor Vlado Perkovic, congratulated Mr Jones.
“Ben is an exceptional student who has the capacity to make a major contribution to the community going forward. I am delighted that he has been recognised with a Rhodes Scholarship,” he said.
Professor Merlin Crossley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, who did a degree in biomedical research as a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford in the late 80s, spoke highly of Mr Jones.
“From the first time I met Ben and having now worked with him while he was the president of Arc@UNSW, while he was on Academic Board committees and while contributing to Nura Gili, I’ve been struck by his calm wisdom and considered approach to complex problems. When I see young people like Ben coming through, I am increasingly optimistic about the future,” Professor Crossley said.
Mr Jones said both the programs he hopes to study at Oxford are “fantastic and world-renowned”.
“I believe they will not only provide me with some really great skills, but also a diverse community of problem-solvers from across the world who can work together towards addressing the inequities within our health systems. I hope I can really make the most of this opportunity to learn and experience as much as I can, and ultimately come back to Australia in a better position to achieve my vision,” he said.
After Oxford, Mr Jones said he hopes to return to Australia and complete his clinical training.
Mr Jones is studying a Doctor of Medicine at UNSW Sydney and is an alumnus, with a Bachelor of Medical Studies and Post Graduate Diploma in Health Management. He was Chair of the Board at Arc@UNSW and played a part in the development of their inaugural Indigenous Strategy. Mr Jones has also been a resident fellow at the UNSW Residential Colleges, a UNSW Academic Board member, a UNSW Medical Faculty Board member, and has been involved in Nura Gili’s programs during his time at the University.
Outside of his studies, Mr Jones is involved in community-driven advocacy within governance structures and public discourse. He also enjoys playing football.
Rhodes Scholars are chosen on the basis of exceptional intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service. Each year, about 100 scholars are selected from around 60 countries, including up to nine from Australia – one for each state, plus three Australia-at-Large awards.