On Nov. 18, Iain Sander learned he became the second Queen’s student in as many years to be named a Rhodes Scholar.
Granted by Oxford University, 95 applicants from around the world receive the prestigious title every year. Recipients are given the opportunity to pursue any full-time postgraduate degree offered by the University of Oxford for two to three years, with tuition, residence and travel expenses completely paid for.
Sander graduated from Queen’s this fall with a degree in Chemical Engineering before becoming the 58th Queen’s graduate to be awarded the honor. He follows Claire Gummo, a Political Studies and Gender Studies student who received the award last year.
For the 2018 edition of the Rhodes Scholar, interviews were held on Nov. 17, with Sander made aware of his position the following evening. “The Chair of the Committee called me and said ‘I think you should sit down’ and I was thinking it wasn’t going to be good,” Sander, Sci ’17, told The Journal in a phone interview.
Sander, who’s currently studying medicine at the University of Alberta, recalled “losing his composure” despite “usually being a calm person.”
When asked if there was anything he was anxious about in terms of the move to England, Sander said the social environment would be a major change for him. “I don’t really know what to expect,” he said. “Especially coming from a small town in Alberta and Queen’s having been a tight-knit community.”
Despite this, Sander said he’s excited to have an engaging academic experience similar to what he had at Queen’s.
“Everybody has different interests at the Rhodes Program,” he added. “That extra perspective will be interesting to experience. And instead of weekend trips to Montreal, I can easily travel to places like Paris instead.”
This isn’t the first time Sander has received a significant scholarship. Upon entering his undergraduate career, Sander was named a Loran Scholar. Founded by Dr. Robert Cluett in 1988, the Loran Scholars Foundation is a Canadian national grant organization that gives out awards based on leadership potential demonstrated by academic achievement and extracurricular activity.
With that scholarship valued at over $100,000, it covered Sander’s tuition and spending costs over four years of his undergraduate study. Without it, Sander said he wouldn’t have been able to attend Queen’s. Looking back at his chemical engineering degree, Sander called it a rigorous program.
“Being at the top in high school and then coming to Queen’s Engineering I felt like a small fish in the ocean,” he said.
Despite the difficult adjustment, Sander said it was ultimately “harder to leave than to come.”
“The friendships I made at Queen’s have been very strong and are definitely going to be life-long,” he said. “It will always have a special place in my heart.”
While at Queen’s, Sander worked with the Residence Society, coached the local Special Olympics swim team and worked with first-year engineer students as a Project Manager who oversaw their design teams.
After completing his first year of medicine in Alberta, Sander will begin his studies at Oxford in the fall of 2018. He intends to complete his graduate degree at Oxford in bio-medical studies, specifically orthopedic bio-mechanics and musculoskeletal science.
“Ideally I would see my role helping people on an individual level as a physician,” he said, adding he would return to his medical degree following the postgraduate degree and work to integrate the two degrees into a career focused on individuals with disabilities.
“I’m just really grateful to Queen’s and [the] engineering faculty for helping me grow and develop as an individual,” Sander said. “I want to thank my research supervisors Dr. Bruce and Juliana Ramsay, and [Associate University Registrar Officer] Teresa Alm.”
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