Rhodes Scholar Patrick Hickey, HBA’19, will join a class of 100 from more than 60 countries as recipients of this distinguished scholarship to study at the University of Oxford next year. Nominated by the Newfoundland and Labrador region, he is one of only 11 Canadian students to earn the esteemed award and the 24th Rhodes Scholar in Western history.
With an interest in economic resilience and the fishing industry, the 22-year-old St. John’s, N.L., native plans to pursue a career that embraces culture and uses business to generate returns for the economy, for people and for the environment. After Oxford, he plans to return to Newfoundland to help redefine the province’s economy for the future.
Hickey, currently a Global Investment Banking Analyst with RBC Capital Markets in Toronto, begins his time at Oxford next fall. Western News reporter Paul Mayne sat down with Hickey on Wednesday to discuss his time at Western, at Ivey and what lies ahead.
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Western News: Patrick Hickey, Rhodes Scholar. Have you said that out loud yet?
Patrick Hickey: I have not. That’s foreign to me, and it’s going to take a bit of time to get used to, I suppose. Maybe it’s not something I have to get used to. I don’t know how much it really changes a person. It’s an opportunity, perhaps, to build on the first two words – Patrick Hickey – and less so that last two words. I haven’t said it out loud yet, but I know I’m going to get used to it over time and I look forward to what that’s going to mean for me in the future.
WN: Besides looking great on a resume, and a great conversation starter, what does it mean to you to be accepted to, and be part of, the prestigious Oxford community?
PH: To me, being accepted into this community as a Rhodes Scholar, studying at Oxford, the initial thought is this is a fantastic opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador, and that’s what it means to me right now – and I’m hoping that’s what it will mean to me in two years, and in 10 years and in 20 years.
It is an incredible and diverse network of folks from all around the world, all fields of study. I see that as a fantastic opportunity to bring some of what I know from home and, also, to equally kind of let go and be molded by the folks I’m going to encounter, all within the context of bringing that back to Newfoundland and Labrador, bringing it back to Atlantic Canada and bringing it back to the country to try and make things a little bit better.
WN: You mentioned this is great for your home community in Newfoundland and Labrador. What did you mean by that?
PH: It’s a fantastic opportunity we have as a province. We select one young person every year to go away to Oxford and become a member of the Rhodes Family. The network of people, places and experiences that will expose someone to, and really develop them as a person – their character, their insight, their insight – is an investment in people and I see that as an investment in the province as well. I know, personally, I hope to bring everything I learn in my time there back home someday to hopefully pay dividends with the incredible opportunity this is for me.
WN: Take me through the day you found out you were becoming a Rhodes Scholar. What was that like?
PH: I had interviewed in the morning. There were a number of candidates interviewing and once that process was over there’d be a deliberation period. So I was trying my best to get through that deliberation period without thinking about it too much but, of course, it’s the only thing you can think about.
I was actually at my grandparent’s house that afternoon. I didn’t expect a call to come until some time that evening or later that night since it was a competitive process. I was sitting amongst my grandparents, some of my siblings, my parents were around, and my phone rings. It was a 709 number (Newfoundland and Labrador) and I thought, ‘OK, here it goes.’ So I walked into a spare room and I got the news I was selected.
It was very overwhelming in the moment, but I feel so grateful I was able to receive that call where I did. To be in St. John’s, in Newfoundland and Labrador, surrounded by my family was really special and meant a lot to me. I would not have been given this opportunity if it wasn’t for each layer of support I just mentioned. To be with my grandparents when I received the news, to have my immediate family around … I looked out the window at Signal Hill in downtown St. John’s, the Atlantic Ocean was on the horizon. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.
WN: You spoke earlier about bringing a piece of Newfoundland and Labrador with you. What about Western and Ivey? Is there something that stands out for you from your time here that you’ll take with you?
PH: I’m very proud of where I come from and its grounds me as I move forward. But I’m very conscious not to completely hold on to where I come from. It’s about holding on just as much as I’m letting go. I had to go through that when I moved to London and started studying at Western, and through that again when I started school at Ivey. When you can maintain that balance of holding on and letting go, being proud and being curious, I think that really helps you develop in the best possible way.
Now I go to Oxford, having come from Western, having come from Ivey, and I’m going to take that with me. I think about Ivey’s focus on leadership and particularly on character. They have this fantastic leadership institute that really focuses on integrity, humility, courage and judgment as a function of experience. I think that’s what this is all about moving forward, taking all the experiences I’ve had, letting that develop my judgment to hopefully let me a better person a better leader and to get the most out of future experiences.
WN: What are your plans when you get to Oxford next fall? Have you decided what you’ll be focusing your studies on?
PH: I come from Ivey Business School where there is a focus on the real-life application of what you’re learning, and so I hold that dear to my heart and it helps motivate me, but I’m actually looking at the moment at pursuing a double Masters in Nature, Society and Environmental Governments and Financial Economics.
Seafood is my passion, the fishery, using our renewable resources in a way that pays dividends to the environment, to the economy and to our communities. So I see these two programs as a fantastic way to both learn how to manage these resources in the best way, with those stakeholders in mind, and then the financial economics side of how can we really use this opportunity, use these resources in the best possible way and in a responsible way. So mixing the theory and the real-life application of what do we have, what are we good at, and then what can we do with it in a business sense and a development sense.
WN: A lot of what you do in your personal life, the countless community outreach and volunteer efforts both back home and across the country, revolve around the importance of mental wellness. How does this continue to play a meaningful role in your life?
PH: We need the incredible folks who are working tirelessly day-in, day-out, and night-in, night-out in the mental-health field, as caregivers, researchers, front-line workers, policymakers. The work they do is invaluable and is needed to continue to push that agenda forward.
But what can we all do? What can I do? I’m not going (to Oxford) to study psychology or psychiatry. I want to work in industry and want to work with communities, so what can I do to promote the mental wellness of myself and the community around me? I do remind myself of the things I’ve said in the past, to be compassionate, to be caring, to be kind, and that’s really what I think it takes, both to others and to yourself. It goes both ways. Everyone doesn’t have to be doing front-line work, but everyone can still be a mental-health champion.
WN: With your busy life, working now as a banking analyst in Toronto, preparing to move across the Atlantic, why is promoting mental wellness still so important to you?
PH: Growing up in Newfoundland and Labrador, we take care of each other – our neighbourhoods, our communities, our families and our province – and that’s something that gets instilled in you growing up. When I think of studying at Ivey Business School, one of our pillars is giving back to the community you operate in and I really try to live those principles in my everyday life. Sometimes that translates in to more long-standing engagements, maybe a little bit more intensive work, and sometimes that just means holding the door open for someone behind you. That can go a long way too.
Where can I make something a little better? Where is there a need I feel I can contribute to? Again, it can be something so small or it can be something that takes a lot more work, but it’s not necessarily out of passion or out of obligation, it’s really this intrinsic understanding of that’s what we do as people; it’s what you do in the communities you operate in.
WN: So you’re first class will be this coming September. Are you anticipating there to be butterflies, or are you beyond that at this point?
PH: It’s indisputable that this is an opportunity you really have to dedicate yourself to get the most out of it. At the same time, once again, I’m going to go there as the person I am and I want to hold on to that with my right leg and hard as I can, and then I’m going to take a step forward with my left foot and I’m going to just let go with the other half of me. I think that’s the best way to go about it.
I can take great comfort in where I come from. I can ground myself fully in what I know and where I’ve been, but then the other side of that equation is really letting go and embracing where I am. And if I’m nervous, fantastic. If I have butterflies, great. I’m trying to maintain that balance so that I can remind myself of who I am and stay true to who I am, while also actually growing as a person and getting the most out of the experience.
WN: While there will be a tremendous amount of energy and focus put towards your academics, outside of that are there things you’re looking forward to experiencing once you move to England and step on campus?
PH: I look forward to playing soccer again. I guess I’ll have to start calling it ‘football.’ It’s been a few years, obviously, but there’s a club at Oxford and lots of opportunities to play on campus, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to all the things about British culture that I don’t actually know about yet. Again, just letting go as much as I can and embracing whatever may be going on around me on campus, off-campus, in the U.K., in Europe – opportunities to see so many things that I’m not even aware of yet.
WN: When you started high school, you didn’t know Western and Ivey were in your future. When you started Western, you never thought a Rhodes Scholarship was in your future. Now that you’re heading to Oxford, is perhaps what’s intriguing and exciting to you is not knowing the future or what lies ahead?
PH: It’s very true, the last few years I would never have imagined any of the steps I have taken. I never thought I’d leave the province I came from. I never thought I would study at a school like Ivey or at an institution like Western. And I certainly never even knew I could go to Oxford or be a Rhodes Scholar or what any of that meant.
But I’m excited to get going. I know what I want to do with this. I know the general direction I want to reciprocate these opportunities in, so it is exciting and nerve-racking that I don’t know what that looks like, and I don’t know what my next step will be, or the stop after that, but I am excited to figure out what they are, to make the most of them, enjoy them and hopefully to give back to all the people and places that have given me these opportunities.
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Patrick Hickey, HBA’19, has been named a recipient of the esteemed Rhodes Scholarship, an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford, Rhodes Trust officials announced today.
One of only 11 Canadian students honoured this year, Hickey becomes the 24th Rhodes Scholar in Western history.
Patrick Hickey, HBA 2019
Levi Hord, BA 2018
Saumya Krishna, BHSc 2013
Brian Coulter, BESc, HBA 2009
Joelle Faulkner, BESc, HBA 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, MA 1980, 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
Rev. Kenneth Elder Taylor, BD 1933
Angus Duncan McLachlin, MD, MSc 1932-1933
Dalton Gilbert Dean, BA 1931