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Dartmouth native Sierra Sparks named Dalhousie University’s 92nd Rhodes Scholar

Posted by Communications and Marketing on November 24, 2020 in News

Tuesday, November 24, 2020 (Halifax, NS) - Dalhousie University congratulates fourth-year engineering student Sierra Sparks on being named a 2021 Rhodes Scholar. The Rhodes Scholarship is a distinguished award, given to just over 100 high-achieving students from around the world each year, allowing them to pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University in England. Rhodes Scholars are selected based on academic distinction, integrity of character, passion for community and their field, and leadership ability.

As Dalhousie’s 92nd Rhodes Scholar, Sparks is one of only 11 students from across Canada chosen this year for the prestigious opportunity to study at the University of Oxford, an award that is valued in excess of $100,000. Since the Rhodes Trust’s founding in 1903, only a small handful of universities across North America can claim more Rhodes Scholars than Dalhousie.

“I’m really excited to be at Oxford because they have a really fantastic engineering science program,” says Sparks, “but also to be part of the Rhodes community. I’m going to get to meet current and future leaders and bounce ideas off them, learn from their skills and their community involvement… I think that’s the most exciting part: learning from all these amazing people about how to make change. Words cannot describe how excited I am.”

Sparks, who grew up in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, has spent the past four years at Dalhousie taking her enthusiasm for engineering, social justice, music and community building and giving it back to her community, time and time again. Whether it’s advocating for diversity in her field or supporting her fellow students academically and within Dal’s administration, she has been a beacon of inspiration for her peers, her professors and people across the Dal community.

“She is a complete student, an impressive individual and a role model for many to follow,” says John Newhook, dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “Sierra has continually and consistently demonstrated outstanding academic performance, but equally impressive is her level of engagement and passion as a student leader within Dalhousie and at a national level.”

“As we look to grow Dalhousie's global reach and impact, students like Sierra show just how far our outstanding students can go on the international stage,” says Deep Saini, Dalhousie president. “Sierra's dedication to her community and fellow students, particularly to young women and underrepresented groups looking to pursue studies and careers in STEM fields, shines through in her leadership efforts. Sierra is a most deserving recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship, demonstrating incredible academic performance, community leadership and amazing personal accomplishments.”

Sparks’ work in biomedical engineering — specifically medical imaging — has inspired her to continue it at Oxford during her graduate studies. She hopes to explore how artificial intelligence can be used to improve the diagnostic quality of medical imaging, and also make it more accessible to remote areas and communities.

You can read more about Sparks and her impressive list of accomplishments on Dal News.

Sparks follows fellow Dalhousie alumni Nayani Jensen (2018), Maike van Niekerk (2017), Brittany Graham (2015), Michael Mackley (2014) and Paul Manning (2013) into the Rhodes Scholar ranks, as well as University of King’s College students Isabelle Roach (2020) and Sarah Burns (2014).

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Media Contact:
Lindsay Dowling-Savelle
Communications Advisor – Media Relations
Dalhousie University
Cell: (902) 222-8810