Exceptional Cambridge Scholar Rumbidzai Dube Honored with 2023 Bill Gates Sr Award

Zimbabwe-born, Cambridge Scholar Rumbidzai Dube, along with Bailey Weatherbee, has emerged as one of the two recipients of the prestigious 2023 Bill Gates Sr Award. Their remarkable achievements and embodiment of the Gates Cambridge values have earned them this esteemed recognition.

The Bill Gates Sr Prize was established in June 2012 by the Gates Cambridge Trustees to honour the late Bill Gates Sr., who played a vital role in the establishment of the Gates Cambridge Scholarships. As a Trustee, he engaged with and inspired numerous generations of Gates Cambridge Scholars. Rumbidzai Dube and Bailey Weatherbee were chosen as deserving recipients of this prize.

Exceptional Cambridge Scholar Rumbidzai Dube Honored with 2023 Bill Gates Sr Award
Rumbidzai and Bailey pictured with Mimi Gardner Gates.

Rumbidzai Dube, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Politics and International Studies, has been acknowledged for her exceptional academic brilliance and significant contribution to transforming the University of Cambridge's approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). In a LinkedIn post, Rumbidzai expressed her deep honour of being a co-recipient of the 2023 Bill Gates Senior Award, recognizing her scholarly achievements and her efforts in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of Cambridge. She described her journey since receiving the Gates Cambridge Scholarship three and a half years ago as a profound experience filled with a relentless pursuit of knowledge, the discovery of a supportive community, lasting friendships, and a renewed sense of purpose. Rumbidzai expressed immense pride in being part of the Gates Cambridge community, dedicated to intellectual excellence, improving the lives of others, and assuming leadership roles across various domains.

During her tenure as the President of the Black Cantabs Research Society from October 2019 to October 2022, Rumbidzai played a pivotal role in fostering diversity and inclusion throughout the university. She collaborated with the Cambridge Libraries Decolonisation Working Group to enhance library resource accessibility for Black and minority ethnic students. She also advocated for broader access to Cambridge library resources.

Rumbidzai's involvement with the Black Cantabs resulted in the establishment of three new university initiatives named after distinguished Black alumni, whose histories were uncovered by the society. These initiatives include the Alexander Crummell Fund, providing ongoing support for anti-racism work at the University, the Gloria Carpenter Lecture, focusing on efforts to create a more equitable environment at Cambridge, and the annual George Bridgetower Essay Prize, centred on race equality.

Moreover, she successfully fundraised £60,000 to establish a post-doctoral position dedicated to continuing the historical recovery work of the Black Cantabs Society within the University. In recognition of her contributions, Rumbidzai was selected by the University to accompany Professors Henry Louis Gates Jr., Kwame Antony Appiah, and Wole Soyinka during their momentous week of receiving honorary degrees in 2022.

Rumbidzai's nomination for the award highlighted her accomplishments in improving mental health care support for Black and minority ethnic students, combating everyday racism in Cambridge, and promoting the decolonization of curricula, museums, and librarianship. She has delivered numerous talks across the University, and in 2021, she hosted a Seminar Series titled "Black Faces in Elite Spaces." This series critically examined the historical formation of elite academic spaces and explored ways to decolonize and reconstruct them to foster inclusivity.

As part of her academic endeavours, Rumbidzai co-hosted a Seminar Series with the African Studies Centre called "New Departures in African Political Studies." This series shed light on contemporary African politics through the contributions of Black and African scholars, aligning with her thesis focus on the politics of territoriality in African regional politics.

A scholar who supported Rumbidzai's nomination described her outstanding intellect and insightful understanding of the complexities of African regional politics. They attested that Rumbidzai perfectly exemplifies the Gates Cambridge criteria, making her a truly deserving recipient of the award.

The Bill Gates Sr Award allows scholars to recognize the impact and contributions of their peers within the Scholar community. Scholars nominate fellow Scholars based on the Scholarship's selection criteria, with careful consideration of their achievements during their time at Cambridge. This is the 11th presentation of the award since Rajiv Chowdhury, now Professor and Chair of Global Health at Florida International University, won it in 2013. In the past, the award has been shared by two scholars on five occasions and by three scholars once. 

Previous Zimbabwean Cambridge University academics to receive the Bill Gates Sr Award include: 
  1. Enocent Msindo 2001 Ph.D. Historical Studies
  2. Daniel Williams, 2007 MPhil English Studies
  3. Siza Mtimbiri, 2009 Ph.D. Education
  4. Vaibhav Bhardwaj 2012 Ph.D. Plant Sciences
  5. Sandile Mtetwa, 2017 MPhil Chemistry, 2018 Ph.D. Chemistry
  6. Charity Bhebhe 2018 Ph.D. Pharmacology
  7. Ntombizodwa Makuyana 2020 Ph.D. Biological Science at the Babraham Institute
Rumbidzai Dube holds a Bachelor's degree in Law from the University of Zimbabwe and a Master of Law from the University of Pretoria. Additionally, she obtained a Master of Philosophy in African Studies from the University of Cambridge, where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

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