From left: Mattea Mrkusic, Johann Go, Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and James Ranstead at the announcement of the scholarship recipients

Student leader named as Rhodes Scholar

by Mike Isle

Lincoln University Student president James Ranstead is one of three New Zealanders to receive prestigious Rhodes Scholarships, which will allow him to carry out post-graduate study at Oxford University.

James, originally from Te Awamutu, graduated this year from Lincoln University with a bachelor of science degree, majoring in conservation and ecology, and will be studying towards a master’s degree in international relations in the United Kingdom in 2019.

He hopes to focus specifically on climate justice and to work in international diplomacy before returning to New Zealand to academia or politics. He started working on his scholarship application two years ago.

“I walked out of the interview with a little bit of hope,” he said, “which led to ecstasy when I was told I was successful.”

“I struggled to talk for an hour afterwards.”

James has put into practice his passion for the environment, working as a park ranger and parks volunteer in Auckland, along with extensive volunteering in other areas.

He hopes to use his interdisciplinary background in physical and social sciences to work at the International Panel for Climate Change, with his eventual ambition being to return to New Zealand as the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

“I feel like I have a lot to give, and for me to fulfil my aspirations as a national and international leader, the Rhodes Scholarship seemed like an incredible opportunity to set me on my path.”

A former recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and current Lincoln University assistant vice chancellor, Professor Grant Edwards, said studying at Oxford through a Rhodes Scholarship would expose James to outstanding research and education experiences.

“It will enable him to enhance the leadership skills that he has already demonstrated to a large degree through his role as president of LUSA.”

Ninety-five Rhodes Scholars have been selected from 64 countries.

James was also elected as National President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) last weekend at the NZUSA Congress.