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Two U of C students receive Rhodes scholarship

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Two University of Calgary students were recently chosen as Rhode Scholars, placing them in the ranks of former prime ministers, U.S. presidents and Nobel Prize winners.

The Rhodes scholarship gives graduate students the chance to study at Oxford University in England for two years, free of charge. Only 83 students are selected world wide every year. The scholarship is considered one of the highest academic accolades in the world.

One of the winners was U of C medical student Yan Yu. Yu said he was surprised to win such a prestigious prize.

“I’m mostly still shocked,” Yu said. “I’m still trying to process everything. I’m really humbled and thankful for this opportunity. I’ll make the most of it, for sure.”

Besides having near-perfect grades, Yu developed a website called the Calgary Guide to Understanding Disease. The website explains symptoms of medical disorders in a novel way.
Yu said in medical school, students are not always taught why certain symptoms present themselves with disorders.

“With say iron deficiency, you’re given a list of the symptoms,” Yu said, “but you’re just given that: a list and you’re told to memorize it.”

Using simple charts, the Calgary Guide to Understanding Disease shows, step by step, the series of causes that lead to a symptom.

“We’ve been able to get [the website] used in over 100 countries,” Yu said. “We want to connect with other people and expand this resource around the world so we can help as many people as possible.”

Over 10,000 people have visited the site since it was created last year.

The other recipient was medical student Aravind Ganesh.

Ganesh moved to Red Deer from India in Grade 10 and quickly built an impressive list of achievements.

While in high school, Ganesh began volunteering in his community. He went on to work with a group that advocated for, and passed, an anti-bullying bylaw in Red Deer.

After graduating as class president, Ganesh moved to Calgary. While attending the U of C, he founded an activist group called Citizens for Change.

“What we tried to do with Citizens for Change was identify key social and political issues that students were passionate about,” Ganesh said, “and try to post some evidence-based commentaries on these issues.”

He went on to develop a mental health screening program used at the Calgary Drop In Centre and take part in heart and stroke
research.

He did all of this while maintaining excellent grades.

“The U of C was good to me in that sense,” Ganesh said.

Nine other Canadian students received the scholarship this year, with one other student from western Canada.

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