UBC’s two new Rhodes Scholars to focus on global water crisis, health care

Two University of British Columbia students have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, marking the first time the university has fielded two Rhodes Scholars in the same year.

Kayli Johnson, an honours chemistry student, is the recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship for British Columbia. Jaspreet Khangura, a fourth-year student in medicine, is the recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship for the Prairie Region.

The two scholarships will allow the students to pursue postgraduate studies at Oxford University in England.

“UBC is extremely proud to have two of our students named to this distinguished scholarship,” said Brian Sullivan, UBC vice-president, students. “These students exemplify UBC’s values of academic excellence, global citizenship and building a sustainable and equitable future for all.”

Johnson plans to pursue studies at the Oxford Centre for Water Research through the School of Geography and the Environment in order to help inform policy makers about the global water crisis. This interest stems from a lifelong interest in science that inspired her to pursue a BSc degree in Chemistry at UBC. Her academic excellence has been recognized by such achievements as receiving the BMO National Scholarship, NSERC Summer Research Award and the Canadian Millennium Excellence Award.

Johnson also has a keen interest in global issues and has devoted a great deal of her time and creativity to volunteer initiatives. When her BC elementary school was closing, she organized the donation of school books to Hopkin’s Village in Belize, where she lived with a local family for five weeks in order to renovate the library and secure an international donor to ensure its ongoing support. Locally, the fourth-year student has volunteered at homeless shelters and worked as an intern with the BC Cancer Agency’s Research Centre.

Khangura, a student in her senior year of UBC’s Doctor of Medicine program, plans to pursue the MSc in Global Health at Oxford to prepare for a career in health care. Khangura’s keen interest in social justice issues has inspired her to remain committed to volunteer work and community development projects both locally and globally. Some of her numerous volunteer projects have included the establishment of a Kids Can Free the Children chapter and Humanitarian Outreach Program, raising money for children in developing countries.

She has worked at local food banks, and with the Community Health Initiative by University Students (CHIUS) clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.  In addition, she travelled to the Himalayas with a team of medical students to conduct health screenings and promote hygiene and nutritional education. Locally, she worked to help develop a community health outreach program for new immigrants and subsequently developed workshops for the local YMCA and Vancouver Immigrant Society. Khangura participates actively in athletics and has been a member of Team Alberta’s Field Hockey team and a past silver medalist at the Canada Summer Games.

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. One student from every province is chosen each year.

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 recipients include former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Prime Minister John Turner, a UBC alumnus. Since 1916, 67 UBC students have been named Rhodes Scholars.


Sean Sullivan
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.3213
E-mail: sean.sullivan@ubc.ca