Two Maritimers win Rhodes scholarships

Two Maritime university students have been awarded Rhodes scholarships.
Two Maritime university students have been awarded Rhodes scholarships.
Mary-Dan Johnston, Rhodes Scholar recipient. (Kyle Albright )

This weekend eight Maritime applicants went to Charlottetown for their final interview and chance to win an international Rhodes scholarship.

On Sunday the Maritime committee announced this year's recipients.

Mary-Dan Johnston from St. Thomas University and Rebecca Dixon from Mount Allison University are the recipients.

Each scholarship is valued at approximately $100,000 and pays for a post-graduate degree at Oxford University.

Each year scholarships are awarded to 11 well-rounded Canadian students with GPAs of 3.75 or higher.

On average, 50 Maritimers apply for the scholarship every year.

Johnston, 22,  was raised in Halifax and is an interdisciplinary honours student.

Johnston said she was driving back from the interview in P.E.I. when she got the phone call.

"I was with my mother. The chair of the committee was on the line and he said 'I have some exciting news for you' and my mom heard that phrase and she had to pull the car over," Johnston told CBC News.
Rhodes scholarship recipient Rebecca Dixon is a student at Mount Allison University in N.B.

Johnston said a major part of her application was spending a year in a Cape Breton community helping people with developmental disabilities.

"It hasn't really sunk in. It's amazing. It was a shot in the dark for me — something I should throw my hat in for, but by no means did I think I'd end up here."

She's also involved in music groups, student union and track and field.

Next year Johnston wants to do her masters in global public health at Oxford University.

Heather Morrison is on the Maritime Rhodes Scholarship committee and was P.E.I.'s first female Rhodes Scholar in 1991.

She said the committee looks for well-rounded students with strong grades and said Johnston embodied the essence of what it means to be a Rhodes scholar.

"Strength of character, the energy to use one's talents to the fullest and leadership and commitment to service," Morrison said.

The Rhodes Scholarship has been awarded to undergraduate students from Canada and other countries in the British Commonwealth, as well as the U.S. since 1902.

It was named after Cecil Rhodes, founder of the De Beers diamond companies, who set up the scholarship in his will.