Sarah Burns is the 30th winner of the Rhodes scholarship from the University of King’s College (UKC).
The Rhodes scholarship is a prestigious scholarship awarded to 11 applicants across Canada each year. The Rhodes website says the students are “chosen on the basis of exceptional intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service – to study at the University of Oxford.”
Burns, 22, graduated from UKC in May 2015. This time next year, she’ll be in the United Kingdom as a student at the University of Oxford.
Burns came to Halifax from Ontario as a Loran scholarship winner, which is given to students who demonstrate character, service and leadership. She said it was always her goal to win the Rhodes scholarship.
“It’s something that I’ve always dreamt of,” she said. “There have been quite a few Loran scholars who have also received the Rhodes.”
Burns said she applied for the scholarship in mid-October. The support from her UKC community gave her the confidence that she needed.
Nicholas Hatt, the Dean of Students at UKC, said he has no doubt that Burns will be a great representative of UKC.
“Sarah is a conscientious, compassionate, thoughtful individual,” he said. “It seems to me the Rhodes is a great platform for her to be able to work with others, to alleviate suffering, to care for other people on the scale that she wants to do it.”
A few weeks after applying, Burns learned that she had been chosen for the final interview stage. Interviews happened last weekend in Halifax. Burns said her interview was Saturday morning at 10:30.
She got the call at 5:00 p.m. saying she had won.
“It was just so exciting. There’s such a shock to it and you know it’s going to change your life completely,” she said. “It’s such an honour.”
Burns said her family and friends have been wonderful about her news. “I don’t think my mom has stopped crying since she heard,” she said.
She plans to do an MPhil (U.K. equivalent to a masters degree) in economics, which is a two-year program.
Burns said she’s not nervous about moving to a new country since she’s done it before. She has lived in Rwanda and India, so England won’t be her toughest move.
“Through the Loran community I know quite a few people over there, which makes it much easier,” she said.
Canada’s east coast well represented
James Flynn is this year’s Newfoundland division winner of the Rhodes scholarship. Flynn took some time to speak with The Signal about how it feels to represent his province.
“It’s a privilege and an honour,” he said. “Newfoundland and Labrador will always be my home, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share its culture.”
Flynn said receiving the call that he had won was surreal. “At first, I thought I was dreaming.”
Flynn is completing his undergrad at the University of Toronto, double majoring in Economics and Political Science. He plans to pursue a Master of Science in Social Science of the Internet at Oxford, followed by a second degree.
Burns and Flynn will both be heading to England in Oct. 2016.