The announcement of the 2005 Rhodes Scholarships was cause for great excitement at Freehills, with two of the firm’s employees among the 11 Australians selected.
Anna Oldmeadow, a solicitor specialising in employee relations, and David Winterton, a paralegal in the litigation field, will head to the University of Oxford for two years, with the possibility of a renewal for a third year.
Oldmeadow hopes to study for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in politics, specialising in comparative government and could continue on to do a PhD, while Winterton aims to complete a Bachelor of Civil Law and MPhil combination. He hopes to study conflict of laws, resolution, comparative human rights and corporate insolvency.
Both had to undergo an arduous selection process, with each round including a formal dinner the night before the interview.
Oldmeadow said the questions were designed to gauge knowledge and opinion on various topics, ranging from history and politics to science and social justice.
She added that four main qualities are sought in a Rhodes scholar — academic achievement, leadership, sport and community involvement.
Oldmeadow, who is in her first year with Freehills, said she had played a variety of sports, was president of her college at the Australian National University and was involved in the student representative council. She was also involved with Amnesty International and now volunteers at Redfern Legal Centre.
The goal of the Rhodes Scholarships is to “reward people who get involved in everything”, Oldmeadow said, and her participation in the program was a continuation of her belief that “participation is important” if you are to be of benefit to your community.
Winterton said he “cannot remember ever being so excited about anything” and apart from the academic opportunities, he is also enthusiastic about the sporting and cultural opportunities the University provides.
Oldmeadow said “going back to university takes on a whole new appeal. I think you are definitely more mature after a couple of years in the workforce and that will probably make this experience fuller than my undergraduate days were.”
The scholars will remain with Freehills until October this year before heading to Oxford, where they will join another former Freehills employee, Ben Gauntlett, who was selected as one of last year’s Rhodes scholars.