Wednesday 6th of July 2022


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All Rhodes Lead To Oxford

All Rhodes Lead To Oxford

All Rhodes Lead To Oxford



In need of a little inspiration?  If so read on.  When Mr Jay Ruckelshaus dived into a reservoir and broke his neck, it was touch and go as to whether he would survive, let alone take up his place at Duke University in North Carolina.  Aside from being on a ventilator for two months, he had a collapsed lung and was unable to move from the neck down.  As if that wasn’t enough as the now 25 year old explained in an interview with the BBC: “I had a 109 Fahrenheit [43C] fever from which you shouldn’t survive”. Mr Ruckelshaus  however did more than survive.  Thanks to eight hours of therapy a day he soon began to breathe independently. He also regained movement in his arms, started to eat on his own and to top it all off learnt how to use an iPad with his wrist and knuckles.  “That [the iPad] was a great thing…That allowed me to connect with the world, read the newspaper, read the periodicals I used to read.” While working on his recovery during the day, at night he would read economics and international relations textbooks. “Every night I would read them voraciously”.  For aside from overcoming boredom, Mr Ruckelshaus still had his sights on studying at Duke.  “I was very adamant from the beginning – this is not changing,” he adds.  “I was very stubborn about it. There was also no doubt from Duke, which was wonderful, and wouldn’t have been the case at some schools.”  Remarkably after just a delay of a year, he was able to commence his politics degree at Duke in 2012. And he wasn’t there to just make up the numbers, for he graduated summa cum laude – with highest honour and then went on to win a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University.  The all expenses paid post graduate course at one of the most prestigious higher education establishments in the world is highly sought after.  How highly?  Mr Ruckelshaus was just one of only 32 successful applicants out of a total of 869.  He is now in his second year of his masters degree at Oxford, but recalling the moment he found out he had a won a coveted place, he told the BBC: “It felt good for myself, but it was more a vindication of everything that so many people had done to support me.  They [Rhodes Scholarships] are not the kinds of things that one person wins on their own, anyway. Everyone has a tribe of people behind them who are supportive.  But I felt that was especially true in my case.” So grateful is he of the help he has received since his accident, that before the end of his first year at Duke, Mr Ruckelshaus set up Ramp Less Travelled, a charity dedicated to spreading “the message that college is attainable for students with spinal cord injuries”.  In addition to offering mentoring, the charity has provided grants of US$2,500 to eight students.  It’s all a far cry from that fateful dive into the reservoir.  And that is just the point.  As Mr Ruckelshaus  explained to the BBC, his life is not defined by his injury, which he describes as “not incredibly relevant”. “In one sense, it sounds disingenuous and flippant to say it doesn’t make any difference, because of course it matters.  It sets up a different set of constraints. But everyone has constraints.”  So who’s not feeling inspired now?