In conversation with Nikhil Pandhi, Rhodes Scholar 2014

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Nikhil_Passport_Size_PictureNikhil Pandhi from St. Stephens College recently received the Rhodes scholarship, one of the most prestigious international graduate scholarships in the world.

Along with coverage of the university and college fees at Oxford, the recipient of the scholarship also receives a monthly maintenance stipend to cover accommodation and living expenses that is funded by the Rhodes Trust. Although all scholars become affiliated with the residential college while at Oxford, they also enjoy access to Rhodes House, an early 20th century mansion with numerous public rooms, gardens, library, study areas and other facilities.



You recently received the Rhodes scholarship. I’m sure that must be really exciting! Tell us about what motivated you to apply?

Quite honestly, I had always heard about the Rhodes but when I figured that my college seniors had applied for it when I was a fresher, it seemed a lot more possible and doable. I saw that I had coincidently accumulated several extra curricular activities with a fairly good academic score that further motivated me to apply. I also thought that Rhodes is an excellent scholarship for somebody who is interested in academic and research particularly. Being somebody who is, I thought it would be good to give it a shot.

What was the procedure?

The procedure is an online application that opens on 1st July. The online application contains of your personal details, a statement of purpose and letter of recommendation.

How did you prepare for it? Any tips for aspirants?

The Statement of Purpose is the most important point of your application in which you need to be really sure of which course you are applying for and why you are applying for it. In order to draft the Statement of Purpose you need to be really sure about what you are writing and deconstruct yourself in way to portray your strengths.

How was your final interview?

I’m always the one who prepares for the interview and not leave it to luck and chance. You need to be thorough with your SOP because at the end of the day the SOP is the fulsome of the interview as whatever they ask is you is more or less based on the SOP.

Having said that, one needs to be aware of not only what you want to do at Oxford but also how it will be relevant to modern day South Asia, as you will be representing your country at Oxford. You need to be aware of theoretical dimensions; debates and controversies around your field and you need to brush up on your own abilities and strength. In the final interview they assess your understanding of the course, your ambitions and aims.

How much importance is given to academic achievements in the application?

Academics are important, but at the same time importance is given to your extra curricular activities, sports and leadership initiatives. I believe that they are not looking for a particular thing but for an overall profile.

What gave you an edge over the other contestants?

I think it was my interest in fields that haven’t been explored widely. Like, I taught myself an East African language “Kiswahili”; I founded the poetry society of my college; I’m trained in Indian Classical Music and I play tennis and badminton regularly. They are looking for somebody who has demonstrable leadership abilities in different realms supported by a good academic record with an equally balanced extra curricular. Also my first book of poetry, “Derelictions” is out too!

Which course are you planning to study at Oxford?

I’ll be studying Archeology at Oxford. I want to be a historian/archeologist with a particular focus on South Asia, Africa and the Indian Ocean while continuing in academia and research so that I can particularly contribute towards the study of regions of history that have not been studied traditionally.

Now that you have this brilliant opportunity, how do you plan ahead?

The MSc is a one-year course and then I plan to apply for the MPhil and follow research with DPhil so that I can teach and continue my research independently. The Rhodes covers a minimum of two years of your education and based on your academic records it is extendable to your third year as well.

Nikhil is currently studying History and has won the Westcott Memorial History Prize, the Ranjit Singh Goel Memorial Award as well as the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Undergraduate Scholarship. We wish this multifaceted student the best for his future endeavors!

For more information about the Rhodes Scholarship, click here.

A social butterfly who loves Coldplay and organizing events. She is a sucker for happy endings, and never misses the Wimbledon finals. When not seen running around with her never-ending pending work, she is seen catching the Friday releases. A hopeless optimistic at heart, she loves to travel to new places, discover new people, and make memories.

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