UBC Economics Student Earns Rhodes Scholarship

A University of British Columbia economics student has been named the 2005 Rhodes Scholar for British Columbia.

The scholarship of more than $100,000 will allow fourth-year student Matthew Chan to pursue two master degrees at Oxford. Starting October 2006, Chan will focus on earning an MSc in global health science during his first year at Oxford and an MSc in economics for international development during the second year.

“UBC is extremely proud to have one of our students named to this distinguished scholarship,” says Brian Sullivan, UBC vice-president, Students. “Matthew has achieved not only outstanding academic excellence, he has already demonstrated remarkable commitment to global citizenship.”

Chan, a native of Vernon, B.C., plans to work with developing countries in improving health measures. He has garnered international field experience through summer volunteer work. Earlier this year, Chan spent six weeks working with an AIDS outreach program for a Ugandan charity organization. During summer 2004, Chan volunteered with the B.C.-based Hope International Development Agency to build a school in a small rural community in the Dominican Republic.

“It almost doesn’t seem real to be chosen as the Rhodes Scholar,” says Chan, who began his studies at Okanagan University College. “I know how qualified and talented all the other candidates are. Just to be included in that group is already quite an honour.”

Chan says his desire to help others was first sparked during a trip he made to China as a 12-year-old. He and his parents were visiting Ningxia, a province in northwest China. There, he encountered dirty and sick children, many of whom had bellies swollen from hunger and malnutrition.

“What I saw there really affected me,” says Chan. “ It shaped my attitude and opened my eyes to the rest of the world.”

Along with his academic and community endeavours, Chan enjoys running and playing UBC intramural basketball. Prior to studying at UBC, Chan attended San Diego State University for a year where received the rowing team’s Most Valuable Rower Award and the Scholar-Athlete Award . Both at high school and during his first year at Okanagan University College, Chan played on the men’s basketball team.

The Rhodes Scholarships, established in 1902, were designed to bring outstanding students from across the world to study at Oxford University, in the interests of promoting international understanding and public service.

The scholarships require a high level of literacy and scholastic achievement, success in sports, strong qualities of leadership and character, and evidence of public service. Past scholars include former Prime Minister John Turner and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.