A leading honours student from The University of Western Australia who plans to undertake Masters Degree studies in Global Health Science and Research in Public Health at Britain's prestigious Oxford University has won UWA's 99th Rhodes Scholarship in 100 years.
Today's win was UWA BSc(Hons) graduate Freya Shearer's second attempt in two years to gain Western Australia's most prized scholarship. She competed last year with fellow UWA graduate Katherine Noonan, who later went on to win a 2013 Rhodes Australia-At-Large Scholarship.
Ms Shearer 24 - who also completed a Diploma in Modern Languages - becomes UWA's fifth Rhodes Scholar in three years. Another UWA student, Rebecca Hutchens, who is due to complete her Bachelor of Medicine this year - was today recommended by the WA Rhodes Scholar selection committee to compete for one of three Rhodes Australia-At-Large Scholarships to be decided next month (December).
Ms Shearer joins an illustrious cohort of UWA Rhodes Scholars to study at Oxford, including former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, former WA Premier Geoff Gallop, former WA Chief Justice David Malcolm and Australian business leader Sir Rod Eddington.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said he was delighted Ms Shearer had been awarded the University's 99th Rhodes Scholarship in UWA's Centenary Year and he wished her continued success in her program of study and personal development.
"Ms Shearer's selection to study at Oxford recognises an outstanding level of achievement based on exceptional intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service - qualities that UWA aspires to instil in all its students," Professor Johnson said.
"Her win demonstrates UWA's commitment to helping students become global citizens by nurturing them in a creative environment that fosters world-class academic excellence and the development of leadership qualities that shape their lives and future careers at internationally recognised levels of achievement."
Ms Shearer said one of the most exciting aspects of undertaking the twin Oxford Masters study program was the opportunity to learn from leading researchers and public health practitioners at a top-ranked university, and to live, study and network alongside students from diverse backgrounds.
"This would fulfil my scholarly aspirations while simultaneously providing the best possible platform to pursue research and professional practice in the field of public health," she said.
Ms Shearer has spent 2013 working in the Emergency Department of St John of God Hospital at Murdoch and on community service projects.
Ms Shearer said she was drawn to science while studying chemistry and biology at Perth College, where she graduated in 2006. She adopted the goal of working to help end global poverty in her generation's lifetime after attending a 2009 lecture by Oaktree Foundation founder Hugh Evans. She later became Street Team Coordinator for the 2010 Make Poverty History Roadtrip campaign.
She became Assistant Project leader for a Global Poverty Project campaign to eradicate polio during the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth and later became the Upside organisation's Operations Manager in a campaign to improve health, education and economic development in rural Nepal.
Ms Shearer is also a 100m hurdler and coordinates weekly soccer matches for volunteers and detainees at the Perth Immigration Centre, an activity she says has "strengthened my belief that sport transcends cultural and linguistic barriers and helps refugees meet people from the wider community."