With 83 new members from around the world named this year, Rhodes is the world’s pre-eminent graduate student award, offering two years of all-expenses-paid postgraduate study at Oxford University. Its 110-year tradition includes three Nobel Prize winners, as well as former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner and former U.S. president Bill Clinton.
“To be part of such a warm and dynamic community of scholars and change-makers is what excites me most,” she told The Globe and Mail. “Moreover, the opportunity to study at the oldest university in the English-speaking world feels truly magical. It is a tremendous gift.
“The world is changing at an unprecedented pace, and, I believe, we need to nurture leaders who can navigate through complexity and analyze issues from myriad perspectives. Whereas our education system tends to emphasize specialization and depth, I feel that breadth and exposure to a variety of fields is important.”
For her success, Krishna credited “an incredible support system of mentors, family and friends – I am so grateful to them – and the unyielding passion to engage in public issues and make an impact.”
The list of Western honours and accomplishments for Krishna, the university’s 22nd Rhodes Scholar, is, predictably, impressive.
Awarded Western’s prestigious Richard and Jean Ivey Family President’s Entrance Scholarship, Krishna holds the title of a Western National Scholar. She was president of the student group Rebuilding Health in Rwanda, a member of the Faculty of Health Sciences Students’ Council, production manager of the Western Undergraduate Research Journal and a volunteer facilitator for the Violence Prevention Program. Named among Canada’s Next 36 in 2011, she was a co-founder of the Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund, helping provide early-stage financing to young social entrepreneurs.
Upon graduation, Krishna was named a Gold Medal Winner at Spring 2013 Convocation for highest average of any graduating Health Sciences student in an Honors Specialization Scholar’s Electives module. She has mentored FHS National Scholarship recipients and students in the Scholars Electives program in incoming classes behind hers, as well as participated in Alternative Spring Break.
She worked as a community service learning leader, responsible for coordinating large scale civic engagement opportunities on campus, and as a residence advisor.
In high school, Krishna pursued both her academic and extracurricular interests, earning the Governor General’s Academic Medal for the highest graduating average, the Elmwood Golden ‘E’ Award for Student Engagement and the University of Toronto National Book Award. In 2008, she took part in the Shad Valley program, co-leading her team to develop a product that addressed the water needs of rural communities in Africa. This business plan won the national RBC Shad Entrepreneurship Cup for the Best Overall Project.
She enjoys Classical Indian dance, travelling and learning new languages.
Reflecting on her time at Western for the Scholar’s Elective program, Krishna wrote:
“Western offers an exceptionally strong and well-rounded undergraduate experience. I would like to believe that the Scholar’s Electives program has made mine extra special. As is well known, this program provides outstanding opportunities to gain firsthand research experience, connect with driven peers, and build strong relationships with professors. What I have valued most about the program, however, is the flexibility it has granted to self-design a degree tailored to my own needs and passions.
I came to university with an uncrystallized sense of my interests but bearing a raw and unyielding curiosity about the world, which spanned across disciplines, geographies and chapters of history. In a time period when higher education is considered the means toward employment and people find themselves prematurely and arbitrarily subscribing to areas of specialization, the Scholar’s Electives program offered an oasis in which I could learn for the sake of learning and exploration – a liberal arts education of the finest quality.
… Over the past four years, my mind has been opened and stretched in profound ways, I have investigated the world from myriad perspectives, and I have significantly enhanced my abilities to think critically and analytically. For this level of freedom and flexibility, I am immensely grateful to the Scholars Electives program and my faculty.
On the whole, I have graduated with a much broader understanding of the world, the ability to adapt to different disciplines and environments, and the confidence to communicate my ideas effectively. As the world enters an era of unprecedented change and complexity, and calls for leaders who are well-rounded and globally minded, I reflect back on this period of exploration and growth as invaluable.”
Western’s Rhodes Scholars
Arguably the world’s most prestigious and best known student award, the Rhodes Scholarships were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902, and bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford. Currently, 11 Rhodes scholarships are awarded in Canada, two of which are designated for the province of Ontario.
Western has seen 22 Rhodes Scholars in its history:
Saumya Krishna, BHSc 2013
Brian Coulter, BESc, HBA 2009
Joelle Faulkner, BESc, MBA 2004
Maureen Hogan, BSc 2001
Samir Sinha, MD 2000
Dilip Ninan, BA 1998
Richard Pan, BA 1997
Javed Siddiqi, BSc 1984
Andrew Sean Nevin, BSc 1980, MA 1981
Stephen Kevin Burley, BSc 1980
John Alexander Stilborn, PhD 1979
Jonathan Michael Borwein, BA 1971
Colin Gordon Andrew Brezicki, BA 1970
David Michael Grace, MD 1964
James Montague Farley, BA 1962
John Hugh MacLennan, DLitt 1952 (honorary degree)
Benson Andrus Wilson, BSc 1948
Ramsay Willis Gunton, MD 1945
James Frederick Grandy, BA 1941
The Rev. Kenneth Elder Taylor, BD 1933
Angus Duncan McLachlin, MD, MSc 1932-33
Dalton Gilbert Dean, BA 1931