Luke McCarvill, hailing from Cornwall, PEI, is currently in his final year at UPEI’s Sustainable Design Engineering program. The Cadre had the opportunity to sit down with Luke to delve into his background and gain insights into what it takes to be considered for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
The Rhodes Scholarship is a distinguished award offered to international students to pursue graduate programs at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. This esteemed scholarship presents 100 seats to academically excellent students from around the globe.
From an early age, Luke harbored a passion for a diverse array of subjects including biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and social sciences. Initially aspiring to pursue pharmacy as a career, he enrolled in UPEI’s Chemistry program upon entering university.
During a summer vacation in high school, Luke participated in the Shad program at Dalhousie, engaging in various activities such as science, entrepreneurship, and design challenges. This experience led him to realize that engineering encompassed far more than his childhood perception of simply building bridges, sparking a newfound interest in engineering design. Motivated by this realization, Luke made the bold decision to transition to engineering after completing a semester of studying chemistry.
As part of UPEI’s study abroad program, Luke seized the opportunity to study at Arizona State University for a semester, where he actively participated in the sport of frisbee. Upon returning to UPEI, he founded the Ultimate (Frisbee) Club, serving as a platform for UPEI students to partake in the sport and now holds the position of President of the club.
Engineering At UPEI – A Regret?
Initially, Luke experienced regret about choosing UPEI for engineering, as he had initially been drawn to biomedical engineering but found himself directed towards the Sustainable Design program. Additionally, he was disheartened by the absence of a Co-op program within UPEI’s engineering curriculum. However, his initial regrets dissipated as he continued to excel within the Sustainable Design Engineering program, unlocking a multitude of opportunities such as participating in conferences across Canada and Japan, securing a work term in Germany, establishing the Ultimate (Frisbee) team, chairing the engineering society, and embarking on a semester-long study abroad program as part of UPEI’s Study Abroad initiative.
The Application Process:
The application window for the Rhodes Scholar opened in June with a deadline of September. Luke was required to furnish six references (three academic and three non-academic), a resume, transcript, and a 750-word personal essay detailing his vision for decarbonizing the energy grid.
Confronting Impostor Syndrome:
Throughout the application process, Luke grappled with feelings of unworthiness for the Rhodes Scholar award, particularly after meeting other shortlisted applicants in Moncton. Despite his reservations, Luke navigated a 75-minute interview with the judges and ultimately emerged as a Rhodes Scholar. The judges sought eager learners rather than subject matter experts, thus Luke’s candidness in admitting when he was unfamiliar with certain topics proved to be an asset.
The Crucial Role of the Personal Statement:
Luke attributes his selection as a Rhodes Scholar to his meticulously crafted personal statement, underscoring the significance of authenticity and transparency. He dedicated the entire summer to drafting a personal statement that authentically reflected his past achievements and future aspirations, recognizing the judges’ ability to discern between mere braggadocio and genuine passion for one’s field.
Luke emphasizes the pivotal role of interviews in the scholarship decision-making process, noting that the judges seek socially adept, humble, and authentic individuals who are forthcoming about their achievements and career aspirations.
Tips For UPEI Students:
Luke shared some advice for UPEI students who want to get the most out of their university experience:
- Graduate school might or might not be a necessarily step for you. Based on your career aspirations, you might or might not need graduate school. Do your research, seek advice from people in your industry.
- Keep strong and healthy relationships with your professors. Not only will they be your references, but also serve as mentors in the trajectory of your goals.
- Try to get involved. Join a volunteer organization, a student society, or a sports club. Getting involved as much as possible enriches the university experience and enables you to make new friends.
By Syed Imran