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Kaleem Hawa

Old Boy

The Rhodes Scholarships are perhaps the most prestigious academic award in the world. Each year, 11 scholarships are available in Canada to enable outstanding university students — chosen on the basis of exceptional intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service — to study at the University of Oxford.

In 2015, Upper Canada College alumnus Kaleem Hawa ’12 received one of these prestigious awards in his final year of undergraduate study at Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He headed to Oxford University in England in the fall of 2016 to pursue two one-year masters degrees back-to-back: global governance and diplomacy; and integrated immunology.

“I’ll be studying new threats to security, including pandemic preparedness and climate change,” Hawa said in a 2015 interview.

Though the task at hand was kind of enormous, Hawa was more optimistic than anxious. In a wide-ranging discussion, it was clear why Hawa impressed the Rhodes judges at an “interview party” for the 13 Ontario finalists at the University Club in Toronto. He was a star debater, chair of the World Affairs Conference and much more while at UCC. He also graduated with a Loran Scholarship, Canada’s largest and most comprehensive four-year undergraduate award (valued at $100,000). At U of T, Hawa was president of the Hart House Debates Committee, the University of Toronto Liberals and the university’s international relations society.

Looking back, Hawa credits UCC’s International Baccalaureate Programme for setting him up so well.

“The IB prepared me incredibly well for the rigours of university life and study,” he says. “The debate program in particular played a seminal role in growing my confidence and strengthening my knowledge base.”

With 25 Rhodes Scholars to date, UCC may lay claim to more than any other Canadian school since the program’s inception in 1903.


University of Toronto profile

Rhodes Scholarship profile