Misbah Reshi journey towards cracking Rhodes Scholarship

Misbah Reshi is one of the two law students to have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University next year. Hailing from Kashmir, Misbah is a final year student at Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. She has graduated with a Philosophy Honors from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. She has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Sankalp Udgata who is currently pursuing law from NUSRL.

  1. Please introduce yourself, your areas of interest.

I am a final year law student at Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi and a Philosophy Honours graduate from St. Stephen’s College. I am interested in studying Human Rights Law, Public International Law, International Law and Armed Conflict, Constitutional Theory and Islamic Jurisprudence.

2. What has motivated you to pursue LLM? (Please feel free to answer this in light of your choice for pursuing higher studies)

As a philosophy student, I was always curious about what I was learning and my professors at St. Stephen’s encouraged this curiosity. Carrying this with me to law school, while I was studying law, I was curious to learn more but there were many questions that were left unanswered. I am pursuing an LLM to find answers those questions, to broaden my perspective on law, to have a global outlook on my academic interests and to be part of a diverse group of students from all across the world from whom I will be able to learn.

3. When is the ideal time to start working on the scholarship application? Please tell us about the application procedure and what goes into its preparation (please do also mention other tests or interviews that you had to take as formal requirements). What are the most important credentials one must possess in order to make a strong application?

The application process for the Rhodes Scholarship begins in June and the deadline is usually in July. The applicant is required to submit a 1000-word personal statement and a resume. Students are also required to submit six letters of recommendation. There are usually two rounds of interviews after which five students are selected as Rhodes Scholars. This year we had three rounds of interviews – our panellists were from diverse academic backgrounds working across the world. The chair for my second interview was an anthropologist and the chair for my final interview was a biologist.

Formally the preparation can start anytime – few months before June or in June itself but it must be shown that you have always possessed the qualities required in a Rhodes Scholar. This means that your work must precede your application by years if not months.

The Scholarship looks for “young people of outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service” and these are adjudged as four separate characteristics that each applicant must possess. Hence through the entire application and interview process, the applicant should demonstrate that they possess these characteristics.

4. How can somebody without an exceptional academic record make a strong application?

One of the most important requirements for a Rhodes Scholar to possess is academic intellect. One must be in the top percentage of their cohort – if not the topper in all subjects.

5. What should be kept in mind while writing SOPs or Personal Statements? What according to you made your application stand out?

The best advice I can give is to say that there is no perfect way to write a personal statement. The Rhodes Scholarship encourages creativity and values applicants that are able to put forth their story in a unique way. It is important to stay true to yourself and write honestly- this is something I followed.

6. How important is doing proper legal research and how should law students equip themselves with legal research skills?

To be involved in legal research in an inescapable truth of a law student and a lawyer. Whether it is academia or litigation – to be good at researching and writing is absolutely necessary to succeed. One should begin by reading as much as they can – this involves course material, law books beyond their syllabus and papers and books from other disciplines. Reading helps understand how arguments can be put forth and how one can best present themselves. This clarity can help create strategies for research which will help writing. I personally believe law students must invest dedicated time in writing.

Allow your imagination and creativity to enter your research and writing- this will give you a unique perspective and make you stand out!

7. What are your future aspirations? Any messages to all other aspirants Rhodes Scholarship?

The Rhodes Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship that not only allows you to study at Oxford but also opens a lot of opportunities by being part of the Rhodes community. Given its highly competitive nature, it is daunting and intimidating for students but I would strongly urge all law students who wish to pursue LLM to apply for the scholarship. From writing the statement of purpose, refining the resume, prepping for the interviews, to interacting with an inter-disciplinary panel and awaiting the results – the whole application process is a great learning experience and one that I would recommend to all law students.

The Scholarship will seem unattainable (which was the case with me) – till it is not!

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