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Vol 39  No 7
Dec. 14, 2006


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Grand Bank native
becomes latest Rhodes Scholar
by Jeff Green

Fifth-year student Luke Pike is Memorial’s latest Rhodes scholar, and the 99th nominee from this province. He’s heading to Oxford in the fall. (Photo by Chris Hammond)

He’s a record-setting powerlifter, a classically-trained pianist and a dedicated volunteer with countless groups.

Now, 22-year-old Luke Pike can add one more accomplishment to his impressive resume – Rhodes Scholar.

The fifth-year Memorial student who is completing a joint honours degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry is the latest from this province and he couldn’t be more ecstatic.

“I’m very excited about this honour and beginning this new chapter in my career,” he said recently before sitting down to tackle final exams.

Mr. Pike, who is from Grand Bank on the province’s Burin Peninsula, will graduate from Memorial in May 2007 with his bachelor of science degree.

He’ll have a few months off after crossing the convocation stage before heading across the pond to the University of Oxford in England in October 2007, where he’ll begin studies at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and complete a graduate degree in medical oncology.

“I plan to pursue my studies in cancer research and focus on common clinical cancer such as breast, colon and prostate cancers,” Mr. Pike explained.

During the past five years he’s become one of Memorial’s most accomplished students. He’s the recipient of numerous university and national awards and has maintained a remarkable 3.97 Grade Point Average. He was on the Faculty of Arts Dean’s List in 2002-03, has been on the Faculty of Science’s list since 2002.

Mr. Pike received the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award, as well as several other scholarships while studying at Memorial, including the Centenary of Responsible Government Scholarship in 2005-06, and the Faculty of Science Opportunity Fund Scholarship for 2006-07.

He’s found time between his studies to also work as a math tutor, research assistant and chemistry laboratory demonstrator.

Mr. Pike said he is honoured to follow in the footsteps of other high-profile Newfoundlanders and Labradorians including CBC broadcaster Rex Murphy, Premier Danny Williams, as well as last year’s recipient – and Memorial alumnus – Paul Boland.

“I know I’m in good company,” Mr. Pike said. “When I received my congratulatory phone call I was so excited. Everything after that call was a blur, though.”

In addition to holding an exceptional academic record, Mr. Pike has also achieved success as a dedicated athlete.

In 2005-06, he was honoured with the Premier’s Award for Athletic Excellence based on his accomplishments as a competitive powerlifter. A member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Powerlifting Association, the Canadian Powerlifting Union and the International Powerlifting Federation, Mr. Pike currently holds the provincial record in the 110 kilogram Men Deadlift category which he set this year after lifting an astonishing 624 pounds. He also ranks third in his class in Canada.

He plans to attend the 2007 Canadian Powerlifting Union’s junior national championships in Halifax, N.S., in April, as well as the International Powerlifting Federation’s world juniors in La Garde, France, in September.

Between a hectic academic and athletic career, Mr. Pike is also an avid volunteer, squeezing in countless hours with a variety of groups including Memorial’s Campus Food Bank, the Canadian Cancer Society, and St. John Ambulance, as well as the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s and Blue Crest Nursing Home in Grand Bank.

“I volunteer for a number of reasons,” said Mr. Pike, who is also a classically trained pianist. “I enjoy being involved in my community, helping others, and interacting with the public. As well, volunteering provides me with a break from the rigours of school and work.”

Mr. Pike said once he has completed his graduate studies at Oxford he plans on returning to this province and Memorial to pursue a medical degree.

“In the long term I want to come back [and] eventually complete my residency and work as medical doctor,” he said. “Ideally I want to engage in a clinical practice as well as complete research.

“Memorial’s Biochemistry and Chemistry departments have provided me with a solid education and I’m looking forward to living in Europe for the next number of years and then returning here to contribute to this province.”

The Rhodes Scholarship has been awarded in Newfoundland since 1904 and Mr. Pike is the 99th nominee in the province. There were no nominees during the Second World War.

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