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Science student Memorial's newest Rhodes Scholar

By Kelly Foss

Catherine Danielle Leonard is Newfoundland and Labrador's next Rhodes Scholar. The 20-year-old physics and applied math student is in her final year of a B.Sc. at Memorial.

This fall she will have the opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in England. A resident of Portugal Cove-St. Philips, Ms. Leonard hopes to pursue a D.Phil. degree – Oxford's equivalent of a PhD – in mathematics.

"It's such an honour to be chosen," she said. "I wasn't expecting to get it and I had planned on applying to Canadian grad schools. This is a major shift in my plans but certainly not a bad shift."

Ms. Leonard has previously been the recipient of two Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) and has spent two terms doing research at the University of Waterloo. She has also received the 2011 Canadian Association of Physics Best Student Presentation Award in the Division of Theoretical Physics and the 2010 Dean's Book Prize for Physics.

Her selection for the Rhodes Scholarship will bring her that much closer to her dream of one day working in Canada as a university professor in the field of mathematical physics.

"The Rhodes Scholarship is for two years with the possibility of a third year if you are doing the D.Phil. program," she explained. "If I am able to do that program then I will very likely be a doctor by the time I'm 24. It's pretty amazing."

In September, Ms. Leonard will fly to Ottawa for the first leg of her journey and then travel with the other 10 Canadian Rhodes Scholars as a group.

The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award for study at the U.K.'s University of Oxford and is widely considered the world's most prestigious scholarship. The qualities that the founder of the scholarship, Cecil Rhodes, expressly said that a scholar must exhibit are proven intellectual and academic attainment of a high standard, integrity of character, sympathy for and protection of the weak, the ability to lead and the energy to use their talent to the full.

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