Mr Alan Thompson, the 2020 Chair of the St Andrew’s College Rhodes Scholarship Committee, and Mr Jannie de Villiers, Head of The Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) are delighted to announce that St Andrew’s College Rhodes Scholar-elect for 2021 is Ms Jemma Houghton.
Jemma achieved a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Physiotherapy (Summa Cum Laude) in December 2019 at the University of Western Cape, and she is currently completing her Community Service at Butterworth Hospital, a rural hospital in the Eastern Cape. She intends to read for two Masters degrees at Oxford, the first an MSc International Health and Tropical Medicine and then an MSc (Res) Musculoskeletal Sciences.
Jemma was an exceptional dancer while she was at DSG, and every one of her many ballet and dance performances was quite mesmerising and memorable. She was, naturally, the Dance Studio Captain, Head of the Media and Marketing Portfolio, as well as a DSG Prefect. The school bestowed an En Avant Award, Dance Honours, and Academic Honours on her in 2013 when she matriculated after her five years at DSG.
After school, Jemma completed the first year of a Certificate of Higher Education in Theatre Dance at the London Studio Centre, in London, but then returned to South Africa in 2016 to pursue her studies in Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape, where she threw herself into the national and university organisations and structures concerned with the profession, many of which she had to breathe new life into.
Jemma was very involved in teaching Yoga and Pilates in Cape Town, as well as assisting with dance productions for various companies. Both the Movement for Change Personal Project and the Move for Two Ambassador are organisations that have a profound impact on the communities in which they are active.
Her experience as an intern in a rural setting in which the COVID pandemic has amplified all the inequalities and flaws in the South African health system, and society in general, has been transformative for her. She wrote: ‘I am exposed to brutal inequality, suffering, and illness. But, I have and continue to experience incredible inter-disciplinary teamwork, innovation and Ubuntu.’
Jemma is a tenacious and resilient young woman with a clear purpose. She makes things happen in an intelligent and sustainable way. ‘I understand the human body is not made to transport our brains. This is one incredible function but rather, it is a fascinating piece of art, an extension of our brains, and our first home.’
Compassionate, vibrant, generous, creative, energetic and engaging – we have no doubt that she will take full advantage of all the opportunities that Oxford University will afford her and that she will find it a rich and profoundly stimulating experience. We will certainly follow her career with great pride and admiration, and look forward to her returning to South Africa from Oxford University and contributing in a tangible way to the enhancement of the social fabric of South Africa.