Three U of T students will be headed to the august halls of Oxford University next fall, after being named Rhodes Scholars for 2013. The prestigious postgraduate scholarships are given to outstanding all-round students – and, this year, U of T is the only Canadian university with more than one Rhodes Scholar. The recipients are Joanne Cave, who majors in women and gender studies and sociology, Connor Emdin, a biochemistry and global health undergrad, and Ayodele Odutayo, who studies medicine. “U of T consistently produces outstanding young people who meet the demanding criteria laid out by Cecil Rhodes: intellect, character and a publicly spirited commitment to service,” says Krista Slade, director of development at the Rhodes House in Oxford, England. “Leadership defines Rhodes Scholars and clearly Joanne, Ayodele and Connor are exceptional.”
At the age of 12, Joanne Cave wanted to help girls develop self-esteem and take action in their communities – so she founded Ophelia’s Voice, a girls’ leadership organization. Since then, Cave has won a Governor General’s Award for her work for women and girls’ equality, and has interned with a women’s microfinance NGO in India. “A feminist perspective is often not thought to be strongly represented at institutions like Oxford,” says Cave, who attends Woodsworth College. “I’m proud to offer that perspective – especially since some colleges at Oxford did not allow women until 40 years ago.”
At Oxford, Cave hopes to earn a master’s in comparative social policy. She would like to work as a government policy analyst, or for a think-tank interested in social sector innovation. “I also haven’t written off running for public office one day – I just find politics too exciting,” says Cave.
One year ago, Connor Emdin headed to sub-Saharan Africa and conducted research that influenced his career path enormously. He worked on a clinical trial that tested whether taking an antiretroviral drug before having sex would inhibit HIV transmission. He also analyzed the results of 50,000 patients who underwent HIV treatment to show that nurses could provide the same quality of HIV care as physicians. “If you believe you can make a valuable contribution to a research project, working to develop drugs or tools or policies for people living in developing countries can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do,” says Emdin, who attends Trinity College.
Now, Emdin would like to examine the relationship between public policy and health outcomes in developing countries through a master’s in development studies at Oxford. One day, he hopes to work as a development specialist for the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.
Before moving to Brampton, Ontario, the first 12 years of Ayodele Odutayo’s life were divided between Nigeria and the British Virgin Islands. This sparked his interest in improving health care both in Canada and internationally. As a nephrology research trainee at Sunnybrook and former intern with the World Health Organization, he hopes to improve the management of kidney disease locally and abroad.
At Oxford, Odutayo will pursue a master’s degree in epidemiology and health policy. He plans to work as a physician at a tertiary care centre, and eventually take on a leadership role within an academic institution or non-profit organization to contribute to health-care delivery in nephrology. “From managing the precursors of kidney disease to treating patients with chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease, nephrology involves the entire spectrum of health care,” he says.