Campus & Community

Zimbabwean student is Harvard’s 4th Rhodes Scholar

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A Harvard College senior from Zimbabwe has become the fourth Harvard student to be named a Rhodes Scholar this year, accepting the prestigious award to study at Britain’s Oxford University.

Simon Joseph Williams, a Near Eastern languages and civilizations concentrator living in Eliot House, was informed Monday (Dec. 8) that he had been named a Rhodes Scholar from Zimbabwe, which has a separate selection process from the American Rhodes Scholars, who were named Nov. 22.

Williams joins two other undergraduates, Kyle Q. Haddad-Fonda of Issaquah, Wash., and Malorie Snider of Friendswood, Texas, and a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Education, Julia Parker Goyer of Birmingham, Ala., among Harvard Rhodes recipients this year.

Williams, who has been active in the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club and The Signet Society, has studied several languages, including French, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and German. His Harvard coursework focused on Arabic language, culture, and philosophy, as well as English literature and French theater. His senior honors thesis focused on Saudi Arabian literary identity. In his studies next year, Williams is interested in furthering his work in international relations, political history, and Arabic literature.

Williams has studied at St. George’s College in Harare, Zimbabwe, and attended an intensive summer Arabic program during the summer of 2007 at Yarmouk University in Jordan. He worked as an account executive for Brown Lloyd James in New York last summer, handling communications for the launch of a project in Morocco. He has also worked at Widener Library and as a dorm crew captain for Harvard’s Field and Maintenance Operations.

The Rhodes Scholarships were established in the will of Cecil John Rhodes, who built the De Beers diamond company after emigrating from Britain to South Africa in 1870. Rhodes, who died in 1902, established the scholarships in the interest of educating future leaders of the world. The scholarships are offered in 14 countries belonging to the British Empire at the time of Rhodes’ death, plus the United States and Germany.