Congratulations to NYUAD seniors Shamma Sohail Faris Al Mazrui and Charlotte Wang who have been selected as the two 2014 Falcon Scholars from the UAE. They will be the first to embark on this scholarship, administered by the Rhodes Trust, which will fund them to study at the University of Oxford for a minimum of two years.
The Falcon Scholarship, modelled after the Rhodes Scholarship, is awarded each year to one or two exceptional students who have completed an undergraduate degree from a college or university in the UAE, and are ineligible to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship in another country. At Oxford, they will be welcomed as members of the community of Rhodes Scholars.
Al Mazrui and Wang were awarded the scholarship after a rigorous selection process. As described by the Rhodes Trust, the selection committee of the Falcon Scholarship looks for outstanding leaders who are motivated to "fight the world's fight" and to promote international understanding and peace.
Al Mazrui, born and raised in Abu Dhabi, is passionate about public service, and has a particular interest in workforce issues and labour market perceptions in the UAE. She hopes that the opportunity to study public policy at Oxford will enable her to contribute to developing effective policies for her country in the future.
"The current focus of my senior capstone is to understand what barriers are hindering Emirati women from entering the labor market," she explained, noting that while the majority of university graduates in the UAE are female, they face significantly higher levels of unemployment.
"In my research I am looking at multicultural issues and perceptions of work-life balance."
Al Mazrui, who is an Economics major, has been inspired during her time at NYUAD and through study away and internship experiences.
"Interning at the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C. is another experience that inspired me to look at public policy, and made me think about how as an economist I might best contribute," she said. "After gaining an understanding of governance and public policy from a global perspective at Oxford, I would love to come back to the UAE and work in a ministry or think tank that analyses policy and puts quantitative measures in place."
Wang was born in Austria and lived in the US prior to commencing her studies at NYUAD. She is studying Social Research and Public Policy, which she said enables her to study sociology from a research methods perspective.
"I encountered a number of very influential professors during my time at NYUAD, who instilled in me a passion for sociology, and showed me the possibilities of a sociological approach to problem solving," Wang said.
During her time in Abu Dhabi, Wang has conducted research into hybrid identities amongst the Chinese migrant community.
"Theoretically, the idea of the project is to understand how diaspora populations form religious communities, how religious communities draw more members into them, and then how people tell their life stories afterwards," she explained.
Wang, who plans to pursue an MPhil in Sociology and Demography at Oxford, said she is keen to broaden her perspective from primarily qualitative research to more of a quantitative and macro-level approach.
"Whether I’m working in academia or policy, I want to be able to be somebody who can connect the lines between empirically based research and policy interventions," she explained.
The Rhodes Trust said it is delighted to be involved in administrating the Falcon Scholarships, a new program that illustrates the way in which the UAE is establishing itself as a focal point for higher education in the Middle East. The Falcon Scholarship is an independent, freestanding scholarship, but the Rhodes Trust is interested to learn whether a permanent program might be established.
Charles Conn, Warden of Rhodes House commented, "It is terrific that two such strong candidates have been selected in this, the first year of the Falcon Scholarships and we are very grateful to the superb selection committee. The Rhodes Trust is delighted to administer the Falcon program, and we look forward to welcoming Charlotte and Shamma to Oxford in October."
The application process was through a local Committee of Selection within the region, chaired by Dr Allan Goodman, President of the Institute of International Education and which included Michael Corbin, the US Ambassador to the UAE, Dr Jane McAuliffe, former President of Bryn Mawr College, Zaki Nusseibeh, Advisor to the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs, and three Rhodes Scholars who are residents in the UAE.