Elizabeth Tuck was waiting for a table at a restaurant with friends when her phone rang. When she answered it, she said she almost fainted. The fourth-year student had won a Rhodes Scholarship.
“I’m so excited. I’ve wanted the Rhodes Scholarship and I’ve been working towards it for a few years, so to actually have it is just mind blowing,” said Tuck.
Only 11 people across Canada, two from the Maritimes, receive the annual scholarship that allows them to study at the University of Oxford. Tuck is the first student from St. Thomas University in eight years to win the scholarship.
“It’s super weird and intimidating for sure. I’m also feeling super excited, very humbled, very grateful.”
The Rhodes Scholarship is a two-year award to study at Oxford. It pays for tuition and provides a monthly stipend of almost $2000. Tuck said this money will go towards rent for living on campus, something she will have to do as a Rhodes scholar, as well as other living expenses.
Tuck said she’s had her sight set on the scholarship since her first year at STU.
“I looked up the criteria, like what do they look for in an applicant, how do I have this, how do I improve myself to have the other criteria?”
She said she put a lot of thought into the importance of this scholarship. And while it would be nice to have a full ride to Oxford, she had to decide if it was actually what she wanted.
“I really thought about it and I was like, ‘Yes … this is what I want.’”
Thinking back, Tuck remembers using the scholarship as motivation to work through hard projects.
“And then kind of taking a minute, and being like ‘You doing well on this paper is going to help you get to Oxford.’”
Tuck will graduate from STU with an honour in human rights and a double major in political science and Great Books. She said she’s fascinated with the intersection of gender and the law. She’s writing her undergrad thesis on the #Metoo movement’s relationship to workplace sexual harassment in the United States.
But even though Tuck has received the Rhodes Scholarship, she still has to apply to the programs she wants to take at Oxford. She will apply to two masters of studies programs, the MSt in Women’s Studies and the MSt in Legal Research and Socio-Legal Research.
Tuck said there has been instances where people have won the Rhodes Scholarship but then didn’t make it into the program they applied for.
“You can’t just submit your Rhodes application again and think that’s going to get you in,” she said.
“You have to tailor it and you have to be very specific and competitive.”
For the Rhodes application, Tuck had apply to STU’s internal deadline before her name was put forward to the Maritime regional selection committee. She had to submit a two-page CV, a personal statement and six reference letters. Her name was put forward by STU, and then she was chosen for an interview.
The two-part interview took place in Moncton with nine other candidates from the Maritimes. The first day was a meet and greet, which Tuck said was an informal interview. The second day was the formal interview.
Tuck said for her interview, they asked her questions like where she sees the future of Girl Guides of Canada going and if people should be forced to vaccinate their children.
Tuck was the last interview of the day. She received the phone call about 20 minutes after the interview. She thought she may have won when she saw her phone ring because she didn’t think they could have possibly called anyone else before her.
Tuck said she thinks they picked her because she’s passionate about what she’s studying.
Outside of school and working as a residence coordinator in Harrington Hall, Tuck is also involved with the Fredericton Symphony Orchestra, Girl Guides of Canada, several feminist organizations and is the executive member of the Fredericton Swing Dance club.
Tuck said she manages her time “imperfectly.”
“I like all the things that I do, so that definitely motivates me and makes it easier to do certain tasks that maybe aren’t the most fun thing to do, but it contributes to a larger picture of my life and the things that are important to me.”
Tuck doesn’t know what she’s going to do after she’s done her studies, but know’s she wants to work in the non-profit sector and that she’s excited to study at Oxford.
“I think Oxford is going to change me or introduce me to things, open my eyes to things that I can’t comprehend right now because I haven’t done it yet. I really do anticipate my career goals or end goal sort of changing because of this experience.”