Competition for the Scholarships is fierce. The 55 successful candidates were selected from a total pool of 3,647 applicants on the basis of their intellectual ability, leadership capacity, academic fit with Cambridge, and their commitment to improving the lives of others. Departments in Cambridge nominated candidates for the Scholarships and, of these, 111 were interviewed in Cambridge in late March (in person, by Skype or by telephone) by four panels of interviewers drawn from across the Schools in the University. Thirty five of these were for one-year courses and 76 for PhDs. Sixty-eight of the applicants were female, compared to 43 male applicants.
The new Scholars include Herimanitra Patrick Rafidimanantsoa who will become the first Gates Cambridge Scholar from Madagascar. He will study for an MPhil in Conservation Leadership and is interested in empowering local communities to sustainably manage their natural forest resources in Madagascar. He has worked as an environment manager for a cashew company and is currently volunteering at the University of Bangor, Wales where he has translated the 'p4ges' website into French and given Malagasy lessons to lecturers and post-docs - funding himself by working at a local supermarket.
Abdul Hai Sofizada is the first Gates Cambridge Scholar from Afghanistan. He will do an MPhil in Public Policy. He has worked at UNESCO and the UNHCR and is currently Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank where he manages a US$40m investment by the World Bank and others in the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund which funds basic and higher education. He is keen to develop Afghan institutions to allow them better to provide service delivery, particularly in education, and to address equitable access to education for women and minorities.
Sabrina Anjara is the first Gates Cambridge Scholar born in Indonesia. She read Psychology and Asian Studies at the University of Melboure and did her MSc at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. It focused on the quality of life and social connectivity of foreign domestic workers in Singapore and became the basis for advocacy work for better work-life conditions for foreign workers. She has been working as a psychologist at the Ministry of Social and Family Development in Singapore and her PhD is part of a global WHO QualityRights Programme, looking at how to make a sustainable shift in attitudes and practices towards mental health and to promote the rights of people with mental ill health in Indonesia.
Afrodita Nikolova from Macedonia is an award-winning poet, teacher and creative writing workshop facilitator for socially marginalised youth and university students who co-founded a literary magazine "Sh", offering a creative outlet for youth and writers. She is keen to work towards dispelling the elitist perception of poetry. From the Aromanian minority in Macedonia, Afrodita's PhD will focus on the role of arts-based intervention in transforming marginal youth's identities in Macedonia.
Jerrelle Joseph, the first Gates Cambridge Scholar from Dominica, will pursue a PhD in Chemistry which will focus on the use of atomistic modelling to investigate variable pathogens such as influenza and HIV. Rapid mutations of these viruses pose a huge problem for vaccination. The aim of Jerelle's research is to predict the structures of these pathogens, to link this to their antigenic properties and eventually to apply this to the development of viable vaccines for these viruses.
The 55 new Scholars span a broad range of countries, from Macedonia to Colombia. Seven are from Australia, six from Canada, six from South Africa, five from Germany, two each from China, India, Italy, France, the Netherlands, the US and New Zealand.
This year's new Scholars include the youngest immigration judge in Paris, human rights campaigners, founders of NGOs, a journalist and a national coordinator for a global AIDS campaign. The subjects their research covers range from building a replacement heart valve for children, cancer, diabetes, global tax havens, self-harm, online education and moral judgement.
The 55 Scholars chosen in the International selection round will join 40 new American Gates Cambridge Scholars who were selected after interviews in the USA in February. Twenty nine are women and 26 are men.
Professor Barry Everitt, Provost (CEO) of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said: "We are delighted to have awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships to 55 outstanding individuals from such a wide spread of countries and backgrounds. The Scholars are truly remarkable and inspiring individuals and showed at interview that they fit the mission of the Scholarship by their commitment to using their academic skills and leadership capacity to improve the lives of others. We look forward to welcoming all 95 new Scholars to Cambridge in October and to seeing their future impact as Gates Cambridge Alumni".