To say Liam Elbourne is a well-rounded individual would be an understatement.
His combination of smarts, community involvement and athletic accomplishments are the reasons why the 23-year-old student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., was recently selected as a Rhodes Scholar for 2019.
“The interviews took place over a Friday and Saturday in Halifax,” said Elbourne. “They let me know later that Saturday night. I was shocked and it’s something I never imagined I would win.”
He is one of 11 Canadians selected for a Rhodes Scholarship next school year. The highly prestigious scholarship dates back more than a century and brings students from around the world to Oxford University in England.
Elbourne, a native of Halifax, was the top ranked business administration student at St. F.X. last year and a finalist for the Frank H. Sobey Award for Excellence in Business Studies. He will graduate in the spring.
But his work wasn’t just in the classroom.
After a number of sexual assaults were reported on campus, Elbourne became an advocate for the prevention of sexualized violence. In 2017, he served as the lone male panellist in a discussion organized by the St. F.X. women’s and gender studies department.
“There were some highly publicized instances on our campus and I was nervous as ever sitting on the panel, but the people who organized it were wonderful,” said Elbourne.
“It was just about bringing my own reflections on what it means to be a male on a university campus and what it means to be a student-athlete because athletes, as statistics show, are a larger group of perpetrators.”
In September, Elbourne was the keynote speaker at the Antigonish March in Respect for Women.
He also found time to captain the men’s soccer team for the last three seasons and is a four-time U Sports academic all-Canadian.
“He is the full package student-athlete who carries himself with class, dignity and remarkable discipline,” said St. F.X. men’s soccer coach Graham Kennedy. “I don’t think our younger players could emulate a better example than Liam when it comes to character, attitude and work ethic.”
Elbourne left Halifax Grammar School after his Grade 10 year to enroll in a school in B.C. The school, Burnaby Central Secondary School, is affiliated with the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club.
A long-time Manchester United soccer fan, Elbourne said he can’t wait to get to Oxford University, where he will continue to study economics at the world’s oldest English-language school.
Located about an hour and a half from London, Elbourne said he plans to take in some Premier League soccer matches.
“I have an uncle who lives in London so I’ll be spending some time with him for sure,” said Elbourne. “I have some friends in London too, so hopefully they can help me get some tickets.”
Elbourne said he will likely be spending two years at Oxford.
He said he hopes to return to Canada and join his girlfriend, who is now in medical school in Toronto.