An honours student from The University of Western Australia with a passion for volunteer work and educational reform plans to leave his research background behind as he takes on the mantle of Rhodes Scholar.
David Sherwood (21) was named WA's 2013 Rhodes Scholar - the 48th UWA student to receive the honour over the past 50 years - at a ceremony at Government House today. He will head to Britain's prestigious Oxford University next year to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
The former Bunbury Senior High School student has had a brilliant academic career in the field of science, winning multiple scholarships and grants, including the UWA Fogarty Foundation Regional Scholarship, and becoming one of a small group of students to undertake UWA's elite Bachelor of Science (Advanced) course.
He is one week from completing his thesis on the application of nanotechnology to sexual reproduction in honey bees, but it's his voluntary work with struggling schoolchildren that has ignited his dreams.
Last year Mr Sherwood co-founded the not-for-profit organisation Teach Learn Grow Inc, a volunteer group which sends university students to primary schools in remote and regional areas to help boost literacy and maths skills.
The program, which deliberately targets rural and Indigenous populations (the two areas identified by the Federal Government's Gonski Report as being the most educationally vulnerable), sees university students travel to distant schools twice a year to provide one-on-one tutoring and mentoring to three children each over a one-week period.
Mr Sherwood, who graduated from Bunbury Senior High School in 2008 as dux and with a Tertiary Entrance Rank of 99.80, said studying politics, philosophy and economics would help diversify his skills.
"I am very interested in education and educational reform and I would like to lead a movement like that in Australia," said Mr Sherwood. "I think this very broad economics, philosophy and politics course will give me a much better understanding of working outside scientific fields and in particular working for not-for-profits and working with the government."
Mr Sherwood said he loved science and his Advanced Science degree, with honours in chemistry, had given him invaluable analytical and problem-solving skills. However, research could be a solitary pursuit and he had a strong desire to work with and inspire other people.
Mr Sherwood's win underscores UWA's status as a leading Australian research university with former Rhodes Scholars including former Prime Minister Bob Hawke (1953) and Australia's Ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley (1973).
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said Mr Sherwood had done extremely well throughout his academic career, with brilliant high school and university results. He had no doubt Mr Sherwood would be a credit to WA at Oxford.
In addition to his academic achievements Mr Sherwood has been heavily involved in community activities including university soccer and netball, soccer and badminton organisations in Bunbury, volunteer tutoring at Homework Centres, and volunteering with Fire and Emergency Services Australia and Scitech WA.
Mr Sherwood said his early experiences demonstrated the value of good education and mentors.
"If I could pick one person that inspired me throughout my education it would definitely be my high school chemistry teacher, Alan Osborne," Mr Sherwood said.