Cassidy Serhienko headshot
Cassidy Serhienko is the latest of a total of 73 scholars from the University of Saskatchewan to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. (Photo: Submitted)

USask student wins prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study literature at University of Oxford

When University of Saskatchewan (USask) student Cassidy Serhienko got the call on Nov. 20, 2022, her life changed forever. One of only 11 recipients in Canada, Serhienko was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pursue her Master’s in English Literature, with a focus on contemporary feminist writing, at the University of Oxford in England.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Serhienko. 

Serhienko joins a legacy of Rhodes Scholars from USask, with 72 others from various USask degree programs awarded the honour since the university’s establishment in 1907. The Rhodes Scholarship includes tuition, fees, and a stipend for living expenses while studying at the University of Oxford. Established in 1903, it is the oldest graduate scholarship offered in the world and one of the most prestigious. 

Congratulations to Cassidy Serhienko, USask’s newest recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship,” said Dr. Airini, USask’s provost and vice-president academic. “The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious student awards in the world. Outstanding students like Cassidy Serhienko exemplify the aspirations outlined in the University Plan 2025, including Distinguished Learners and Global Recognition, and further illuminate USask’s goal of being the university the world needs.” 

A USask graduate and a current student, Serhienko received a Bachelor of Education degree from USask in 2021 and is currently in her final year of study for a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English.  

As she was finishing her Bachelor of Education program last year, she came across an information session offered for the Rhodes Scholarship and decided to attend. 

“I’d heard of the scholarship before; it gets references on TV shows and stuff like that all the time,” said Serhienko. “I looked up more specifics about the program after the information session, and I knew that I wanted to apply for it when I was finished my English honours degree, because I would want to study for my Master’s in English Literature if I got the scholarship.” 

Serhienko has been an active member of the USask community during her undergraduate education, serving as a peer mentor in the College of Education and, most recently, as a member of College of Arts and Science professor Dr. Peter Robinson’s (PhD) research team, working to transcribe famed writer and poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales from original manuscripts.  

“Education was where my interests were, and then I got to take a lot of university English classes as part of the curriculum,” said Serhienko of her love for language. “I just love the atmosphere of English because I think it can seem like a more solitary discipline than some of the others, because you’re doing pretty much all your research on your own with a book, but it’s very collaborative. It’s like an ongoing conversation and I’ve always found that very interesting and exciting.” 

She has never been to England but is excited to explore college options and to connect with the Oxford campus and Rhodes Scholar community overseas next fall, when she will be able to use her USask education to carry out a research project in contemporary literature. 

A lifelong reader and writer, Serhienko hopes to take her passions for literature and education to continue to support students from rural communities throughout their academic journeys, with a goal of becoming a university professor in the future.  

“It will be a very exciting opportunity and there’s some pretty amazing people who have come out of that program,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds who are studying different disciplines.” 

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