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BHS grad named Rhodes Scholar

She may be just 21-years-old, but Eleanor Gardner has been awarded one of the most prestigious academic honours in the world.

The Bermuda High School graduate was recently named Bermuda’s Rhodes Scholar for 2013.

She will join close to 80 other young adults in the English-speaking world to receive the accolade, which includes a full scholarship for two or three years at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Ms Gardner is currently a senior studying political science and philosophy at The Johns Hopkins University.

She plans to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Politics once at Oxford.

She was on Bermuda’s national swimming and sailing teams and has been able to compete in meets and regattas around the world.

In August 2008, the Bermuda Olympic Association chose her to be the Island’s Female Ambassador for the Olympic Youth Camp Cultural Exchange Programme in Beijing, China.

She is currently a captain of the women’s varsity swimming team at Johns Hopkins.

In her scholarship application, Ms Gardner wrote: “I have dedicated my academic career to the field of political science because I am passionate about understanding and helping communities on a local, national and international level.

“My interest in racial politics is one aspect of my overall interest in understanding and analysing social tensions and their relation to politics.

“Whether within my locales of Baltimore and Bermuda or in other social and cultural contexts, I believe that the study of politics can be a powerful tool for change.”

She first started to compare the socioeconomic and racial climate in Bermuda and Baltimore, while working on a course project at a skate park in Hampden.

Once a solely blue-collar neighbourhood, she was initially struck by the run down appearance of the area.

However, over the course of a few weeks she noticed that the park was actually a symbol of Hampden’s evolving diversity.

She said: “[It] no longer seemed a decrepit and isolated place.

“Instead, I experienced it thriving with the life of the skateboarders: black and white, young and old, poor and middle class.

“The young skateboarders I photographed were bridging the deep-rooted racial gaps that plague Hampden’s history.”

The university project inspired Ms Gardner to look into how race has been institutionalised through Bermuda’s history; her senior thesis will explore the history of racial politics in Bermuda.

“Immersing myself in the racially charged city of Baltimore heightened my awareness of social issues in the community where I grew up,” she said.

“Examining the politics of race in Hampden through the academic lens of political science enabled me to reflect on related issues that I had grappled with as a youth in Bermuda.

“I am also motivated by the desire to reinvest my academic experiences in Bermuda, the community that has inspired my studies.”

Ms Gardner is the first Johns Hopkins Rhodes winner since Wen Shi in 2003 and Wes Moore, now a best-selling author, in 2000.

The Rhodes Scholarship was established by British financier and statesman Cecil John Rhodes in 1902.

He wanted to bring English-speaking students from around the world to Oxford University to increase understanding and tolerance among nations.

He also hoped that young students would return to their home countries and be valuable, contributing participants.

Eleanor Gardner, a senior at The Johns Hopkins University, has been named Bermuda’s Rhodes Scholar for 2013.

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Published December 12, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm)

BHS grad named Rhodes Scholar

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