Rhodes Scholarship is one of the oldest and most reputed international scholarships in the world. Every year, five outstanding students from India are awarded Rhodes Scholarship to undertake various courses in the University of Oxford. Carl Britto, one among the five Rhodes scholars of 2015, speaks to Careers360. Carl is a final year medical student of St. John's Medical College Hospital, Bangalore. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Why did you choose University of Oxford to do D. Phil in primary health?
A: Honestly, my interest lies is in the field of Preventive Paediatrics. I believe a lot work has to be done in the basic level of the health care system (primary health care) to see a positive shift in child mortality. Most causes of child and particularly infant mortality are preventable by simple yet effective means. My initial dilemma was whether to do primary care based D.Phil in the department of Paediatrics or do a Paediatric based D.Phil in primary health. I have settled for a vaccine trial (Typhoid) in the developing regions of Nepal, Bangladesh and Africa with the department of Paediatrics and the Oxford Vaccine Group under Professor Andrew Pollard. I will also be looking at social determinants of health playing a role in child mortality.
Q: Why did you choose UK as your study abroad destination? Were there any other universities or countries in your mind while applying?
A: I chose Oxford UK primarily because of the Rhodes scholarship. It has however been an earnest desire of a student to study in the best universities abroad and come back to serve in India.
Q: Did you apply for any other scholarships apart from Rhodes?
A: No, I didn’t.
Q: You are one among the five Rhodes scholars from India. How do you analyse the competition in getting into a world class university with a highly competitive scholarship?
A: It was an extremely competitive process and I personally feel that all the finalists were good enough to be Rhodes scholars but the panel adds a bit of subjectivity to the whole process. If it was a different panel I might not have been giving you this interview now. With that said, I think getting into Oxford on the Rhodes scholarship is an achievement I am understandably proud of.
The idea of being an all rounder is slowly diminishing in our day and age but the Rhodes scholarship is one which still rewards those who manage to excel in more than just academics. The feeling to be surrounded by other such students during the application process is just great.
Q: Could you please brief the application process of Rhodes scholarship?
A: It comprised of a preliminary written round where in we were required to write about why we wanted the scholarship and what were all our achievements. We then had a preliminary interview round and the final round that followed was in Delhi.
Q: How do you want to explore and experience your life in the UK during your studies in Oxford?
A: I believe that Oxford is very committed to holistic development of a person. I’m not going to compromise on my sporting ability and opportunities to learn not just with the limits of the medical field. In addition to Oxford, my course will also require me to collect data from Nepal, Bangladesh and Africa – this is definitely something I’m excited about.
Q: What are your future plans after completing the course?
A: I definitely want to have the option of treating children besides research. After the D.Phil I will have to do an MD in Paediatrics before I begin working in India. I wish to return to India in the next 10 years and tackle the problems in paediatrics first hand as a physician scientist.
Q: What are your interests and hobbies?
A: Sport is an important part of my life. Although I play hockey at St. Johns, track and field is by far my favourite though. I do the triple jump and the 100m. Most of my free time is spent training and working out. I also volunteer at an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity. Been going there for over 10 years now, needless to say they are closer than family by now and the seeds of paediatrics were sown there.
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