Following in the footsteps of presidents, prime ministers, scientists and world business leaders, Trent University international student Joshua (Yee Aung) Low has been selected as a 2019 Oxford University Rhodes Scholar – the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship award in the world.
A fourth-year International Development Studies (IDS) and International Political Economy student, Mr. Low attributes part of his success as a recipient of the coveted scholarship to the personalized learning environment at Trent, the academic rigour of the IDS program, and the incredible support and mentorship from his professors and the Trent International team.
“At Trent, professors care about you both personally and intellectually,” said Mr. Low. “Studying International Development, I have loved the intellectual challenge and the tight-knit community of the program. Starting with Trent International as soon as I arrived from Malaysia and continuing through the last four years, my time at Trent has been very meaningful for me and full of many key experiences and cherished friendships.”
With a strong interest in forced migration issues, human rights theory and practice, and citizenship theory that was fostered through his experiences at Trent, Mr. Low also says that many professors who challenged his thinking were key to his intellectual development.
“One of the first things that strikes one about Joshua is his genuine intellectual curiosity. This is about ideas, but also much more,” says Dr. Chris Beyers, professor of International Development Studies at Trent, who has worked closely with Mr. Low throughout his time at Trent. “He continually seeks insight into how people think and act, in social, economic, and political contexts, as well as in everyday life. The other thing is that his approach to knowledge is not exclusive; rather, he looks to engage in dialogue so as to be able to think in new ways about matters of mutual interest or concern.”
Since its creation in 1902, the Rhodes Scholarship aims to recognize students with a commitment to leadership and service that would promote international understanding. Mr. Low is no exception. During his time at Trent, Mr. Low served as co-chair of World University Service Canada (WUSC) and oversaw its Student Refugee Program, which sponsors tertiary education and resettlement for refugees living in Lebanon, Kenya, Jordan, and more. Through the Trent-in-Ecuador program, he spent his third year studying abroad, where he also interned as a legal advocate at Asylum Access Ecuador in northern Ecuador, meeting daily with refugees, to advise on legal rights and refugee-related matters. Mr. Low is also the recipient of many awards, including the Global Citizen Scholarship, the Leonard Connolly Award for outstanding contribution to refugee community and many in-class academic prizes.
Mr. Low applied for the esteemed Rhodes Scholarship in hopes of continuing his intellectual journey at the University of Oxford in the Refugee and Forced Migration Studies master’s program where he is looking forward to “living and loving the questions.” Trent International supported his application and helped fund his more than 20-hour journey back home to Malaysia where he completed his final interview before being named the successful applicant in November.
Mr. Low, who will graduate from Trent this spring, is the fifth Trent student to be named a Rhodes Scholar. Previous recipients include: Shelagh Scarth ‘74 (Canadian Studies and History), Jim Retallack ‘74 (History), Alison Van Rooy ’86 (Politics & International Development Studies), and Kai Alderson ‘90 (Philosophy), who have all gone on to impressive careers following their time at Trent and after becoming Rhodes Scholars. Mr. Alderson is a corporate/commercial lawyer working on the leading edge of the emerging field of climate change law; Dr. Van Rooy is currently deputy director of Development Policy Planning at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; Dr. Retallack is a prolific author and professor at U of T; and Ms. Scarth is a prominent lawyer and member of the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
Speaking of the Rhodes Scholarship and the Trent experience, Prof. Beyers says: "The Rhodes Scholarship is a strong affirmation of Trent's legacy of quality undergraduate teaching, and in particular, the sense of an intellectual community in International Development Studies. It also underscores the importance of the year abroad experience at Trent.
About the Rhodes Scholarship
The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate scholarship award for students to study at the University of Oxford. Past recipients include former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, former Ontario premier Bob Rae, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, astronomer Edwin Hubble, and author Naomi Wolf. The Rhodes Scholarship for Malaysia is administered in partnership between the Rhodes Trust and Yayasan Khazanah.
About Trent University
One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
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