BL: My interest in the United States elections in 2016, particularly the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, sparked a fascination with the responsibility of journalists. The power they had in informing the public and asking tough questions to hold politicians accountable intrigued me.
Attending Concordia’s open house then solidified my decision. Meeting David Secko, the former chair of the department, and seeing the hands-on experience offered, such as a real-world news-anchor desk and radio recording booths, played a key role in my choice. Montreal’s vibrant student life and the unique mix of European and North American influences further motivated my decision to study in the city.
As a student, my experience at The Concordian newspaper was pivotal. Starting as an assistant news editor, I moved up to editor of the news section, discovering a passion for international journalism. Interviewing an Afghan student trapped in Kabul during the Taliban takeover emphasized the power of journalism in informing the world. Building a connection with her, documenting her escape and doing a follow-up story for CTV highlighted the impact journalism can make.
In my final year, as managing editor of The Concordian, I aimed to bring meaningful change for future generations of aspiring journalists. After negotiating with the board, I managed to successfully renovate our workspace, provide brand new technology, and also organize our talented team’s plane journey to NASH85 in Hamilton, Ontario, the largest conference for student journalism in Canada. These initiatives were integral to my Rhodes candidacy.
What are your plans at Oxford, and beyond?
BL: My aspiration at the University of Oxford is to pursue a master’s degree in international politics, specifically in European politics or international relations. The catalyst for this interest and urgency to delve deeper into the subject was the war in my home country, Ukraine.
While studying on exchange at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in the capital of Spain, I enrolled in a course called International Organizations out of pure curiosity. Initially focused on theoretical components, we explored what the international community, including organizations like the United Nations and its Security Council, is capable of preventing, as well as its responsibilities.
One month into the course, theory collided with reality. At 4 a.m., I received a phone call from Ukraine, where my aunt informed me that the war had started, and I could hear air-raid sirens in the distance through the phone.
This moment prompted me to recognize the need for more personal contribution. It ignited my interest in international relations, motivating me to research how the U.N. Security Council can be reformed to prevent atrocities amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, where millions of lives are at stake. As a Ukrainian Canadian who has spent half of my life in Ukraine, it is my personal duty to contribute to ensuring peace and security to the best of my abilities.