Rhodes scholar to examine higher education policy in southern Africa

Zimbabwe native Lilian Dube, AB’15, hopes to teach traditionally underrepresented groups

Lillian Dube
Lilian Dube, AB’15
Photo by
Tse Hon Ning
Mark Peters
News Director and Social Sciences SpecialistUniversity Communications

Lilian Dube, AB’15, has won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford next fall. A native of Zimbabwe, Dube is the 51st student from the University of Chicago to receive the award and the second to win this year, joining Law School student Joshua Pickar.

She will pursue two master’s degrees at Oxford—one in education and the other in English—with an eye toward higher education policy and curricula in southern Africa, particularly the tensions that exist between the humanities and technical-skills education. Dube was named one of two Rhodes scholars from Zimbabwe this year, it was announced Nov. 26. She will join the Class of 2017 Rhodes Scholars, including the 32 U.S. students who were named on Nov. 19.

“Oxford has phenomenal support in both disciplines I seek to pursue,” said Dube. “I hope to give back to the education system from which I emerged.”

Dube is currently teaching high school in Hong Kong, where she has designed critical thinking and writing lessons on topics ranging from poetry to ethics.

“Lilian’s plan to integrate the humanities with the work of technical education in Zimbabwe shows great depth, reflection and insight into what humanistic study is for and what it can accomplish,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. “This is an example of the rich and unique perspectives that our international students bring to our curriculum, and how it can be applied after they leave the College. We commend Lilian on this great accomplishment.”

At UChicago she studied English literature, winning the Elsie F. Filippi Memorial Prize in Poetry for her thesis on violence and gender in the work of the Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta. During her time in the College, Dube served as course assistant for a graduate linguistics class researching Northern Ndebele, one of Zimbabwe’s 16 official languages, and translated portions of Shakespeare’s The Tempest into that language. In 2012, she participated in an eight-week summer program in Ukrainian language and culture at Harvard University, and the following year she studied Renaissance literature and Russian poetry at Oxford. She was a member of the International Students Advisory Board and the African and Caribbean Students Association, and served as a resident master’s assistant for Booth-Phoenix house.

Dube would eventually like to pursue doctoral studies in education, enabling her to one day teach literature, education and writing at the university level. “I would love to mentor well-rounded African academics who have the potential to produce regionally and globally impactful scholarship,” she said, “especially among traditionally underrepresented groups.”

Dube was assisted by the College Center for Scholarly Advancement in applying for the Rhodes Scholarship. The CCSA supports undergraduates and alumni through the highly competitive application processes for national scholarships and fellowships.