Nov. 27, 2018
Health Sciences student wins prestigious Rhodes Scholarship
Rahul Arora is headed to Oxford University next fall as a Rhodes Scholar.
Arora is a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program at the University of Calgary, where he majors in biomedical sciences. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA and is a member of UCalgary’s Scholars Academy, an innovative program that supports and challenges high-achieving students.
The application and selection processes for the scholarship are rigorous; there are only 11 awarded in Canada every year, three of which are designated for the prairie region.
“This is an opportunity that I’m so, so grateful for,” says Arora. “It means I’ll be able to spend the next couple of years studying my interests in Oxford’s world-class environment.”
Arora has a strong interest in cancer research, particularly data science and how it can change cancer care. Part of his research at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre brought to his attention that patients with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) — an aggressive form of cancer — are routinely excluded from clinical trials for new breast cancer therapies. As a result, Arora put together the first database of IBC patients across the province and studied how to use clinical data to personalize radiation treatment. Arora has presented some of his research at several national and international conferences.
“Rahul is an outstanding representative of our medical school and of the University of Calgary, and we are incredibly proud of his accomplishment,” says Dr. Jon Meddings, dean, Cumming School of Medicine. “The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards for students to receive. Congratulations and I wish him the best of luck at Oxford.”
“Rahul is a remarkable individual whose strengths in leadership, academics and community engagement were identified years ago when he received the O'Brien Leader in Health Sciences scholarship in the BHSc program,” adds Dr. Ebba Kurz, associate dean (undergraduate health and science education) and director of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. “He epitomizes the mission of the BHSc program to engage students in research-intensive inquiry as we create the future leaders in health.”
Arora showed a passion for medicine and education early on. In Grade 12, he founded the first Calgary chapter of Operation Med School, a non-profit organization that hosts one-day conferences across Canada and the United States to provide information to high school students interested in a medical career. He has also been a mentor and delivered guest lectures at the university since September 2016.
“I’d like to extend our congratulations to Rahul on this outstanding accomplishment,” says President Elizabeth Cannon. “He is an exemplary young innovator who has already contributed exceptional research in the health sciences — and he will undoubtedly continue to do so in the years ahead. Rahul’s leadership also makes him a wonderful mentor to other students considering careers in medicine.”
Arora plans to complement his research experience with a Master of Science in Computer Science and a Master of Public Policy during his time at the University of Oxford. He wants to diversify his skill set to continue to bridge cancer research with policy and data science. “The most impactful work is done at the intersection of fields,” he says.
Arora is excited to meet the people who will be part of the next chapter of his life, and he is thankful for those who have supported him this far. Before accepting the scholarship, he took the time to speak with friends and family. As well as the close-knit circle that has been key to his success, he is grateful for the educators and mentors within his program and the Scholars Academy. “This achievement is not just my achievement,” he says. “Only a small percentage is attributable to me. The vast majority is the support, mentorship, and friendship of others.”
The University of Calgary has 16 successful scholars to date, including Arora. The first Canadian Rhodes Scholars took up residence at Oxford in 1904.