Kelly O’Connor is Mount Allison University’s 49th Rhodes Scholar
A few diners in a Maritime Thai restaurant may have noticed an ecstatic 22-year-old student in their presence Saturday night. This was where Kelly O’Connor, a fourth-year honours international relations student at Mount Allison learned that she had been selected for the Rhodes Scholarship from the University of Oxford. One of the most prestigious academic awards in the world, the scholarship is valued at over $100,000. O’Connor is the 49th Rhodes Scholar from Mount Allison and the second Mount Allison student in a row to receive the award.
“I don’t think the news has really sunk in yet,” says a smiling O’Connor. “I’m very humbled and feel lucky to be selected for the Rhodes Scholarship. I am excited to continue my studies at Oxford and know that my experience at Mount Allison has prepared me well for this next step.”
Mount Allison University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell says, “Kelly O’Connor is an exceptional student who has contributed greatly to her community, both at Mount Allison and beyond. She joins a long list of Mount Allison graduates who have gone on to study at the University of Oxford as Rhodes Scholars. I wish her the very best and congratulate her on behalf of the entire Mount Allison community on her latest achievement.”
O’Connor, a resident of Kelowna, BC and graduate of Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, will begin her Master of Science in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at Oxford next fall.
She says, “My interest in humanitarian crisis and conflict started to develop after I read a compelling article in The Globe and Mail about a child soldier when I was in high school. I knew this was an area I wanted to study. At Mount Allison I took a course on gender and international relations, which opened up a whole new perspective for me — looking at the people in the state and not just the state itself. This was a field I was able to examine more closely as an intern at the Consortium on Gender, Security, and Human Rights in Boston this past summer, researching humanitarian law and gender. This experience, coupled with my studies at Mount Allison, has influenced the way I look at humanitarian and armed conflict and has helped prepare me for my future studies at Oxford.”
In addition to her studies, O’Connor has been involved in several organizations at Mount Allison focusing on humanitarian aid and conflict. She is a member of the Rights and Democracy campus chapter, serving as lead co-ordinator for an Atlantic-wide conference on war-affected children and youth, and is student co-ordinator for Mount Allison’s Centre for International Studies (CIS) — a two-year pilot project run jointly by students and faculty, crossing all disciplines. The CIS's goal is to get people talking, learning, and taking collaborative action on global issues and to bring lessons learned in class to life. Projects include a web site and weekly speaker’s/discussion series on international issues.
She says, “I have enjoyed my time at Mount Allison. Being a part of a small community allowed me to be involved in many projects, such as the CIS, and to get to know and work with my professors, and university administrators, well.”
O’Connor is also a member of the SAC’s External Affairs committee, and volunteers at the Sackville Hospital. During the summer of 2008 she travelled to Ghana with World University Services of Canada (WUSC), conducting research on basic education opportunities.
Following her time at Oxford, O’Connor is considering a career in law and advocacy work. She says, “I feel that the knowledge gained from my time at Mount Allison, and Oxford, coupled with a law degree will enable me to make real changes happen in the area of humanitarian and armed conflict around the world.”