by Dennis Dalman
A 2023 graduate of St. John’s University, Jervon Sands, recently learned the astonishing news that he was selected for the prestigious honor of becoming a Rhodes scholar.
He is one of a select group of students who will begin two years of study at Oxford University in England starting next year.
Sands graduated from SJU summa cum laude (highest honors) with a degree in applied physics. Sands hails from Nassau, an island of the Bahamas in the Caribbean Sea.
He is only the second SJU graduate in 54 years to be accorded that honor. The previous one, the only one before Sands, was Steven Michaud, a 1967 SJU graduate.
According to information from SJU, Sands intends to work on efforts to decrease climate change. At Oxford University, he will concentrate on environmental change and management as well as environmental sustainability. His goal is to help prevent climate change, especially in the Bahamas.
“It is one of the most pressing problems – the climate crisis – and I want to be part of the solutions to inform the Caribbean and safeguard Caribbean countries,” he said, after his Rhodes honor was announced.
Last year, he went with a group of SJU/CSB students to a climate conference in Egypt, and he also has worked for a climate-change charity in London. He will begin his two years of studies at Oxford University in 2024.
During his years at SJU, Sands was involved with many hands-on environmental programs. He is now working with a Benedictine volunteer group in Puerto Rico.
There have also been two graduates of the College of St. Benedict who became Rhodes scholars: Rachel Mullin in 2016; Laura McGrane in 1992.
Each year, 32 students in the United States are chosen to be part of the “Rhodes Scholars” program.
The program is administered through the Rhodes Trust, a British funding group established in honor of Cecil J. Rhodes, a British mining magnate, statesman and founder of the British South Africa Company. The nation of Rhodesia in Africa is named after him.
Among famous Americans who were Rhodes scholars are former President Bill Clinton, songwriter/singer Kris Kristofferson, TV newscaster Rachel Maddow, astronomer Edwin Hubble (for whom the Hubble Telescope is named), Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, current Secretary of U.S. Transportation Pete Buttigieg, American ambassador Susan Rice, film director Terrence Malik and author-feminist-social critic Naomi Wolf.