Harvard senior Jay A.H. Butler has been named Bermuda’s Rhodes Scholar for 2006.
Created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, the scholarships provide two or three years of study at Oxford University in England. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential, and an interest in extracurricular activities, among other attributes. Harvard students have been awarded at least 319 Rhodes Scholarships.
Butler says that he will go to Exeter College at Oxford to read for jurisprudence. “I want to study law and eventually specialize in human rights … the best way to make substantial changes in human rights is through the law,” he said. His interest in human rights extends to the summer of 2004 when he traveled to New Delhi on a Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies Summer Internship Grant to work with the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre.
Butler, a history concentrator and an Eliot House resident, is currently writing his thesis on freedom and race relations through the histories of two families in 19th century Bermuda.
When not studying, Butler sings with the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. He has also played violin in several orchestras, including the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra. Butler has performed, on violin, with other students from Harvard at a concert in the Cathedral in Bermuda, playing the Vivaldi Concerto Grosso in D minor.
“I also volunteer at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter,” Butler said. “Last year I was a resource advocate, helping people find employment. This year I work the breakfast shift, cooking breakfast once a week.”
A Bermuda native, Butler has won numerous scholastic awards in that country, most recently being named a Bermuda Government Scholar in 2002. At Harvard, Butler has been named a Harvard College Scholar in 2003-04 and again in 2004-05.
Studying at Harvard is something of a tradition in Butler’s family. His great-great-grandfather, George Franklin Grant, D.M.D. 1870, the son of former slaves, studied at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) and was the University’s first African-American faculty member. Butler’s great-grandfather also studied at HSDM.
Each year, Bermuda is allowed to select one Rhodes Scholar. While U.S. Rhodes Scholars were announced in November 2005, the International Rhodes Scholar