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Second time's the charm for 2020 Rhodes scholar

Senior staff reporter

Friday, November 22, 2019

SAMUEL Bailey is Jamaica's 2020 Rhodes Scholar, coming out on top of a field of 10 excellent young candidates.

The 23-year-old was announced as the winner of the prestigious scholarship yesterday afternoon at King's House by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, who said the candidates were all outstanding, patriotic Jamaicans.

Bailey, who has been working at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for the past three months, noted that he graduated from Norman Manley Law School in September and was called to the Bar last Friday.

“I had gone for it last year as well, and I got runner-up, so I wasn't anticipating getting it really. It's something I had to overcome last year, so I just went for it because people were saying you can't not try again if you were that close to it,” he explained to journalists after the announcement.

Bailey said he has always dreamt of being able to complete a master's programme, especially in the United Kingdom.

“If you look at the track record of persons who have gone before, and what they have been able to achieve, and how they have been able to help Jamaica grow, I really wanted to be a part of that. I just wasn't ever sure if I was of the calibre to really get there,” he said.

Bailey said now that he is already shoring up experience in international law, the programme will allow him to delve more into economic law, international investment, arbitration, international commercial litigation, trade disputes, and other areas.

The 2020 Rhodes scholar said he intends to use his expertise to help advance policy decisions.

“The world is becoming like a global village [and] it is really important for us to have international lawyers, persons with that perspective and that experience so that the different decisions that we make internationally, and policy decisions, can now reflect better for our population to benefit from that. I'm hoping to come back and then advise Government on those policies, those treaties that we enter into, how we can actually make decisions that are in line with our treaty obligations but still come out with the best for our population,” he outlined.

Bailey is urging future applicants to persevere even when the odds seem insurmountable.

“You may not think that you could be the next person, you might not think you're bright enough, you might not think your résumé is wide enough, you might not think you have enough connections, [but] that has no relevance at all. You just put your best foot forward, showing them that you have that strength, that vigour, that understanding and passion for what you want to do — that's the most important thing — and then just be yourself,” he advised.

The announcement of the successful candidate followed interviews by a committee, chaired by Sir Patrick, yesterday at King's House. Six other people, some of whom are former Rhodes scholars, completed the committee.

The young attorney-at-law has also worked at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the International Seabed Authority, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ministry of Tourism, as well at a slew of local law practices.

He is also involved in a number of organisations and initiatives, including CCJ Academy of Law, Norman Manley Law School mentorship initiative and the Legal Aid Clinic.

The Rhodes Scholarship programme is the oldest international scholarship programme in the world, and is administered by the Rhodes Trust in Oxford.

Since 1904, a scholarship has been awarded to a Jamaican, and continues to benefit young Jamaican leaders of outstanding intellect and character.

The programme offers 100 fully funded scholarships, each year, for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.