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Meet Dalhousie’s 88th Rhodes Scholar

Mackley will graduate from Dal this spring (photo by Ian Froese)
Mackley will graduate from Dal this spring. (Photo by Ian Froese)

If you ask Michael Mackley, the hardest part of the months he spent applying for the Rhodes Scholarship was staying quiet after hearing the answer he was looking for.

“You can’t tell your friends, they’ll tweet. You can’t tell your aunts and uncles, they’ll go on Facebook. You could only tell your immediate family, that’s it,” Mackley recalls of his more than 24 hours of silence.
“That was so hard.”

When the news broke Dec. 2, the 21-year-old Dartmouth native made some early phone calls. Think 6 a.m. early.

“I called all my friends who were asleep and they answered the phone and was like, ‘Michael, what do you want?’ he said. “I said, ‘I won the Rhodes,’ and then they were really quiet and then they screamed.”

Mackley received the Rhodes Scholarship, a renowned honour offering an all-expenses-paid ticket to Oxford University in the U.K. for two years of postgraduate study, with an option for a third. It’s valued at over $100,000.

The fourth-year honours biology student is Dalhousie’s 88th Rhodes Scholar. He is one of 11 Canadians and 83 students worldwide to make this year’s class.

His list of academic successes is long—the dean’s list, research grants and scholarships—but the breadth of Mackley’s extra-curricular commitments is as remarkable. He’s part of several musical groups as a singer and musician, coaches flag football, volunteers with sick children and tutors neighbourhood students.

In his application essay, Mackley wrote about his male acapella ensemble, which performs for medical patients.

“I talked about my music and my love of medical research and sort of how I wanted to bridge the gap between the two, and how I wanted to play a role in this next era of medical research,” he said.

At Dal, Mackley’s been examining genetic diseases in humans. His lab hopes to enhance the treatment of individually rare ‘orphan diseases’.

The budding clinician does not know how he curried favour with the Rhodes panel, but he’s happy it worked out.

“I never really considered myself Rhodes-material, and I still think they made a mistake,” he said. “But I’m going to show up next fall and represent.”

Ian Froese
Ian Froese
Ian was the Gazette's Editor-in-chief for Volume 146. He was the Sports Editor for Volumes 145 and 144.
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