The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

West '06 named Rhodes Scholar

By Emily Howland

Keon West ’06 never thought he would represent Jamaica as his country’s Rhodes Scholar, and based on the results of his interview, he didn’t see it coming, either. “They told me I was selfish and had no clear plan,” West said. “They said that psychology is not a real field of study.”But apparently he did something right, because on Nov. 19, West was selected to become the 12th Rhodes Scholar in Macalester history and the third international recipient from Macalester in five years.

West becomes part of an elite group of 85 international Rhodes scholars and 32 American scholars who will attend Oxford University for two or three years. Rhodes Scholars receive enough money to cover all university costs, all other expenses while in residence at Oxford, and transportation to and from England. In total Scholars will receive approximately $40,000 per year. On campus, students may recognize West from the Macalester Admissions’ tour guide program, which he credits with teaching him to think on his feet. He is also president of the Martial Arts Club and the Salsa Club at Macalester. Back at home, he has done projects in Jamaica to “challenge prejudice.”

“Keon is the person you would expect to get this,” Demoya Gordon ’06 said. “He is smart and engaging, likeable and humorous.” Gordon attended West’s high school in Jamaica and has been a close friend of his at Macalester. But despite West’s laundry list of leadership activities, West only decided to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship five days before the deadline.

“From the moment I met him in Jamaica I had a sense that he had the ability to be a Rhodes Scholar,” said Dean of International Admissions Jimm Crowder, who prompted West to apply for the Rhodes. “As I watched him grow at Mac I became increasingly sure that he would have a strong chance of winning the award.”

After submitting a written application, West flew back to Jamaica for the grueling interview. Even getting an interview, he said, is an achievement because of the competitive pool of applicants.

“You need really, really good grades, support for the argument that you are an active person in society, and you must show yourself as a well-rounded person with many interests,” West said. “And then you need six people to write amazing recommendations.”

A psychology and French major, West attributes much of his growth and success to his Macalester education. At the time of his college decision he chose Macalester over Yale for financial reasons. In retrospect, he says he has grown and developed in ways he never could have at any other college.

“I had never studied French and now I’m a major,” West said. “I went to France and I would never have gone there otherwise. I wouldn’t have looked into so many things I have studied here at another place.”

West is overjoyed at winning the award, though he said, “It is nothing I couldn’t have predicted.”

Even though Macalester has now had two Jamaicans win the scholarship in the last three years, with West following Simon Morrison ’04 who won two years ago, Crowder said that West was given no advantage coming from Jamaica. “American students have to compete in the American pool. Students in other countries have their pools as well,” said Crowder.

The honor of receiving the award extends to the Macalester community and is a wonderful recognition of the school’s prestige and spirit.

Meanwhile, with regards to West’s future, Gordon suggests, “Keep track of this guy.

He’s gonna be big.

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