Ms. Sarah Burns, 22, from Markham, Ontario, is one of 11 Canadian recipients of the 2016 Rhodes Scholarship. One of the world’s most prestigious scholarships, the Rhodes Scholarship covers all expenses for at least two years of study at Oxford University.
“I celebrated last night with a couple of friends at a dinner party,” says Burns on becoming King’s 31st Rhodes Scholar.
Burns graduated from King’s as a Loran Scholar in May 2015, with a BA first class honours in economics and a minor in political science. Her research focused on decreasing income inequality through economic policy. She will continue this work at Oxford while taking a Master of Philosophy in Economics.
“I took sciences throughout high school but I realized that I wanted a deeper understanding of why our society is the way it is. At that point I was really interested in history and when I visited King’s I knew it was the right place for me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a historian or a philosopher but I knew that the King’s Foundation Year Program (FYP) would benefit me.”
After completing FYP, and a year playing on the King’s varsity basketball team, Ms. Burns spent three months with Right to Play International where she helped to plan a global youth summit held in Kigali, Rwanda. The purpose of the summit was to encourage youth from around the world to advocate for the role of sport in peace and development.
“Some of the readings in FYP, like Marx and Rousseau, got me thinking about political science, but my interest in economics began when I was in Rwanda. I learned that the price of coffee was one of the contributing factors to the genocide in 1994 and I became interested in how economic shock affects developing countries.”
Ms. Burns jokes that it will give other students hope to learn that she got B+ in the Foundation Year Program.
“FYP didn’t lead me directly towards a certain academic path but the year itself was my favourite year of university. It taught me how to think critically, and it really taught me how to write. My best friends come from that year, too. When you are living in residence and everyone around you is reading the same text, that’s a pretty incredible experience.”
She says the academic discipline she acquired in FYP helped her to maintain a grade point average of “4-point-something” as she pursued her upper-year courses in economics at Dalhousie University, an option available to her through the King’s / Dalhousie relationship which offers King’s students a wide breadth of degree choice.
Burns spent last summer working for the Kadam Education Initiative (KEI), in Ahmedabad, India, a grassroots organization that gives scholarships to children who reside in the slums of India. Despite this support, many students were still not reaching college. Burns developed an in-depth survey for KEI. The data gathered was then used to develop suggestions on how to alter the program, to further the success and happiness of the sponsored children.
Burns now works for the Bank of Canada as a research assistant for the Atlantic Region.
She applied for the Rhodes Scholarship with the encouragement of King’s President George Cooper, who is also a Rhodes Scholar. Burns credits her interest in the Rhodes to her experience with the Loran community of scholars, who supported her throughout her four years at King’s/Dalhousie.
The University of King’s College has produced more Rhodes Scholars per capita than any university in Canada.