Deirdre Collins (COL ’17) was named the 2018 Rhodes Scholar for Bermuda, where she will work to promote environmental preservation and sustainable development after studying at Oxford University.
Collins, a native of Bermuda, was the only recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship from the island this year.
Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest international fellowships, Rhodes Scholarships and are awarded annually to 32 students from the United States, after an extensive application process. Collins’ award reflects her commitment to her academics and advocacy, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia said.
“On behalf of our entire Georgetown community, I wish to congratulate Deirdre on this extraordinary achievement,” DeGioia wrote in a Nov. 30 news release. “We look forward to the many contributions she will make to our global community as she engages more deeply in her studies in environmental science at Oxford.”
Rhodes Scholars are chosen based on academic achievements, character, commitment to others and leadership potential, according to the Rhodes Trust website. Collins joins the list of 26 Georgetown Rhodes scholars, including former President Bill Clinton (SFS’ 68). There were four other Georgetown finalists, all of whom were women.
After graduating from Georgetown last spring, Collins returned to Bermuda, where she became a certified scientific diver. She is currently working as an investment analyst for the New York Green Bank, a state-sponsored fund that invests in clean energy.
Collins’ academic excellence and determination stood out according to her Georgetown professors.
Biology professor Heidi Elmendorf wrote a letter of recommendation for Collins’ Rhodes candidacy, commenting on her work ethic and intellect.
“She tackled every aspect of the [Foundations of Biology] course with intellectual vigor, mastered the work at hand, and then pushed of her own accord to reach a level of understanding far beyond what we expected,” Elmendorf wrote in her recommendation.
While at Georgetown, Collins served as business and technology editor for The Hoya, held leadership positions at GlobeMed, a student organization devoted to carrying out public health projects and volunteered with Georgetown’s Afterschool Kids Program. Collins attributed her extracurricular involvement to making her a well-rounded student.
In addition to exceling in the classroom, Collins served as a research assistant in the Johnson Biosignatures Lab at Georgetown, which was led by Professor Sarah Stewart Johnson, a former Rhodes scholar, and assistant professor of planetary science with the biology department and the Science, Technology and International Affairs program.
Collins also interned with the Juneau Icefield Research Program, an education program located in Alaska and British Columbia, which she said reminded her of her passion for environmental advocacy.
“I find myself forlorn with nostalgia for a time when coral reefs and glaciers functioned imperviously to human impact – a time I have never experienced,” Collins wrote in her personal statement for the scholarship. “In each of these instances, I am unfailingly reminded of a time before the Anthropocene, when the Earth’s condition was not contingent on human activity.”
Collins, who has been interested in the environment since a young age, attributed her Georgetown academic experience to further inspiring her interest in biology and the environmental advocacy.
“The classes I took and the faculty I met at Georgetown were instrumental in helping me to engage in scientific field research,” Collins said in a university news release. “They inspired me to wholeheartedly dedicate myself to a career in fighting climate change.”
Collins said she is looking forward to her Oxford education, where she hopes to study climate change to prepare herself to confront one of the world’s most pressing issues.
“I am driven to study climate change as it relates to politics, business economics and climate science because it poses an enormous threat to every continent on the planet,” Collins said in the release. “We have never seen a global issue quite like climate change. The decisions we make today will impact us decades down the line.”
Through her commitment to academics, service and her extracurricular life, Collins embodied the attributes of a Rhodes scholar while at Georgetown, her professors acknowledged.
“She embraced Georgetown’s mantra of ‘men and women for others,’” Elmendorf wrote. “Deirdre is a modern-day Renaissance woman.”