New Brunswick

St. Thomas University student wins Rhodes Scholarship

A fourth-year student at St. Thomas University in Fredericton is one of 11 Canadian students chosen to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship this year.

Moot court star Elizabeth Tuck hopes to study gender and the law at Oxford

Rhode Scholarship winner Elizabeth Tuck of St. Thomas University is finishing an honours arts degree in human rights. (St. Thomas University)

A fourth-year student at St. Thomas University in Fredericton is one of 11 Canadian students chosen to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship this year.

Elizabeth Tuck, 21, of Mount Pearl, N.L., was selected by a committee of the Rhodes Trust after an interview Nov. 23 in Moncton.

She could hardly believe it when she got the news.

"Very surreal, definitely," Tuck said, describing the call she received about 20 minutes after her interview had ended.

List winnowed after interviews

Tuck made it through an internal selection process at the university and was one of nine people in the Maritimes who got an interview.

Only two of them were winners.

"After I hung up … I actually was sort of worried that I had misheard them," said Tuck.

She imagined having to go back to her family and friends and tell them she'd been mistaken. 

It wasn't until she started to get official emails from the organization confirming her win that she truly believed it.

"I was like 'OK, no, it's me. This really happened.'"

One more hurdle

Tuck is working on an honours arts degree in human rights, majoring in political science and great books.

The Rhodes Scholarship will cover her fees to pursue graduate studies at Oxford University. It also provides an annual stipend, which this year is valued at more than $27,000 Cdn.

There is another big hurdle, however, before she can cash in.

She still has to be accepted by Oxford.

Captain of 'mooters'

"I kind of thought the hardest part was done, but I really think the hardest part might just be beginning."

The registrar has emphasized that being a Rhodes scholar doesn't guarantee acceptance, said Tuck, adding there are examples of students who did not get into certain programs.

That's "a little stressful," she said, and means she will have to put some effort into her application.

"But I'm feeling very hopeful about it."

Tuck is no stranger to pressure or to hard work.

She is on the dean's list and is one of the captains of STU's successful moot court team, a group that studies legal issues and competes in mock courtroom battles.

"Elizabeth … has consistently been one of the most successful mooters in the program," said St. Thomas president Dawn Russell.

STU's 4th Rhodes scholar since '03

She and her partner won the regional tournament this year in Orlando, Fla., and will compete next summer at the Nelson Mandela Human Rights World Moot Court in Geneva.

Russell also noted that Tuck is the fourth STU student to win a Rhodes Scholarship since 2003.

Besides being a member of the moot court team, Tuck is also a residence co-ordinator, a member of the school's sexual assault prevention committee and a conversation partner for English-as-a-second-language students.

She directs special events for Girl Guides of Canada in her home province, volunteers at the out-of-the-cold shelter in Fredericton, plays violin with the Fredericton Symphony Orchestra, and the list goes on.

"I enjoy all the extracurricular activities I do," said Tuck.

At the beginning of each school year, before committing her time, she asks herself which activities are important to her and further her values. 

Her honours thesis is about workplace harassment legal theory in the #MeToo era.

She's applying to a couple of programs at Oxford — master of studies in women's studies and master of philosophy in socio-legal research — both of which would allow her to continue to study the intersection of gender issues and the law.

"It's something that I find fascinating and important," said Tuck.

She plans on coming back to Canada when she's done at Oxford and working in the non-profit sector.

But she's open to wherever the experience takes her.

"I anticipate my end goal, so to speak, changing, in ways I can't comprehend right now."

With files from Shift

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