First Bahamian Rhodes Scholar Dr. Desiree Cox to be honored by Oxford University
Dr. Desiree Cox is a medical doctor and a doctor of philosophy who will be among six Oxford University alumni whose photographic portraits will hang in the Great Hall/Dining Hall at Pembroke College, Oxford University. These select alumni are persons whom the Governing Body and Art Committee of Pembroke College, Oxford University have determined are distinguishing themselves in their respective professional fields, thought leaders who have achieved prominence in the public eye, especially through focusing their expertise on social impact. The six photographic portraits will be unveiled in September 2017.
Notable Pembrokians from the past include Samuel Johnson (1728), inventor of the dictionary, Senator J. William Fulbright (1925) founder of the Fulbright Scholarship, Sir Roger Bannister, former head of Pembroke College, who was the first person to run the mile in under four minutes, and J.R.R. Tolkien, famous author of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy who was a professor of Anglo-Saxon and fellow of Pembroke College,1925-45.
As part of this honor, Dr. Cox delivered a public lecture at Oxford University on June 3, 2017 to a packed hall. “It’s one of the best, most interesting and inspiring lectures of this erudite story-telling style that I have ever heard,” said Dr. Andrew Seton, fellow and director of strategic development at Pembroke College. “Dr. Cox is a true Renaissance woman whose achievements does Pembroke proud,” remarked Dame Lynne Brindley, head of Pembroke College, Oxford University.
Born in Nassau, The Bahamas, Dr. Desiree Cox is the daughter of James and Ena-Mae Cox and the eldest of two daughters. Dorcas Cox is her younger sister. Dr. Cox graduated from Queen’s College in Nassau in 1982. After receiving her Bachelor of Science (Hons.) from McGill University in Montreal, Canada she went on to become the first Bahamian and the first female from the British Caribbean to be named a Rhodes Scholar. She earned her medical degree from Oxford University and after training to become a medical doctor she went on to obtain a Masters of Philosophy and doctorate from Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK.
From age of three years old, Dr. Desiree Cox enthralled audiences with her speaking and singing. Throughout her remarkable career, she has introduced creativity in all aspects of her work and has been a champion for people of all walks of life achieving their full potential. “Creativity, curiosity and critical thinking are fundamental to health and well-being,” says Dr. Cox. “As the world becomes increasingly complex and technology causes disruption globally in industries, these capacities will become crucial for navigating our way in the job market.”
Critical thinking, science, research, music and art have played equal roles in her contributions to health and education, both in the United Kingdom and The Bahamas. Dr. Cox is an academic scholar, published author, singer and recipient of numerous awards and grants including being honorary professor of creativity and health at the University of Exeter, UK; memorialized on a commemorative stamp of The Bahamas (2013), and inducted in the Queen’s College Hall of Fame (2017).
Dr. Cox was one of the architects of the original Urban Renewal initiative in 2002. For the past three years, she has been spearheading the development of the stem cell industry in The Bahamas in collaboration with the National Stem Cell Ethics Committee (NSCEC), as well as piloting research in the implementation of tele-health and modernizing the healthcare system in The Bahamas. “The stem cell and regenerative medicine industry has extraordinary potential for job creation in health and medical tourism and for diversification of the Bahamian economy,” says Dr. Cox.
In 2013 and 2014 The Bahamas established laws to govern the stem cell industry. “It is important that we ensure that our regulatory system and governance structure for the stem cell industry is strong, adaptive and inclusive. It is equally important to ensure that Bahamians have a fair chance to participate in shaping this industry,” says Dr. Cox. “There is no point telling young people to get a good education without creating the intellectual, cultural and economic environment and job opportunities for them to thrive in The Bahamas,” says Dr. Cox.