There’s no debate as Kenza Wilks wins Rhodes Scholarship
A 21-year-old world debate champion who launched his own public speaking firm has been announced as Bermuda’s latest Rhodes Scholar.
Kenza Wilks, of Pembroke, said he had to re-read his announcement letter a few times before realising it was safe to celebrate getting selected.
He added: “Every year there are always so many incredibly talented applicants but only one student can be sent to Oxford.
“I just remember being so incredibly grateful to the selection committee for trusting me with this responsibility to represent Bermuda as the 2021 Rhodes Scholar.”
He said his “incredibly excited” parents, Carmel Baxter-Wilks and Glen Wilks, “knew better than anyone how long I had been working towards this goal – and they were very proud to see me finally achieve it”.
The scholar selection committee said Mr Wilks was chosen last week, and would arrive next autumn at Rhodes House at the University of Oxford to join more than 100 Rhodes Scholars from around the globe.
Mr Wilks came top in the World Schools’ Debating Championship at 18, and rolled out his own business, CodeBlue Consulting, a year later.
Over the next two years, he raised more than $15,000 in scholarship funds for Bermudian students to attend a debating boot camp.
His passion is Chinese studies, which he plans to continue with at Oxford.
Mr Wilks attended Somersfield Academy in Bermuda before going to Dulwich Academy in London where he excelled. After completing his secondary education, he spent a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing on the Confucius Scholarship and his now finishing his BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics with Chinese Language at King’s College, London.
Mr Wilks said it marked “an incredible opportunity but also a responsibility to represent Bermuda both domestically and overseas”.
He added: “There are countless challenges on the horizon for Bermuda and I am hoping that the Rhodes Scholarship not only equips me with a world-class education from Oxford but also helps me develop the skills needed to help address these emerging challenges.
“I am really looking forward to working with a diverse set of Rhodes Scholars from all around the world when I start my graduate studies at Oxford next year.“