Tara Paterson’s news made her mother “burst into tears.”
She couldn’t believe her daughter was a Rhodes Scholar. The 23-year-old University of Victoria student has paved her way to the University of Oxford in the U.K. by winning the oldest international scholarship in the world.
“I think this is an incredible opportunity,” said Paterson, who hails from Winnipeg. “This is the ability to study at one of the leading universities in the world with students from all over the world.”
Through a gruelling application and interview process, Paterson beat out top students from universities across the province before securing the scholarship on Nov. 24.
As the Rhodes Scholar for B.C., Paterson joins 10 other Canadians at Oxford.
“Financially there is no way I could go to Oxford if it wasn’t for this scholarship,” Paterson said. “I never expected to get it.”
Paterson, a double major in women’s studies and political science, will graduate in June. She is credited with not only being a brilliant thinker, but also a committed volunteer, leader and social activist.
“We are extremely proud of Tara Paterson. She possesses the qualities of a Rhodes scholar – outstanding academic achievement, leadership and commitment to service,” UVic president David Turpin said in a release.
The honour has changed her life in many ways, such as cancelling plans for a summer job, as the award includes flights, accommodations and living expenses for two years, valued at more than $100,000. She plans to pursue a master’s in comparative social policy.
Looking back on her time in UVic, she has advice for students who hope to follow her path. “You have to do what you love and take risks,” Paterson said. “I started to do well in university when I found subjects I was passionate about.”