Here’s a story about the 2012 recipient of the McEuen Scholarship, Emma Archibald.
Bedford student wins prestigious scholarship
May 23, 2012
Possibly no dad in Nova Scotia is more excited about visiting his daughter at university than Al Archibald.
Emma Archibald, a graduating student at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford, has won the McEuen Foundation scholarship and will now attend the University of St.Andrews in Scotland, the school where Kate Middleton and Prince William met while undergraduates.
The scholarship, worth $200,000 over four years, covers tuition and accommodations.
St. Andrews will celebrate its 600th anniversary next year, and even more relevant to Emma’s father, a fanatical golfer, it is just down the road from the Old Course, the most famous golf course in the world.
“On a scale of one to 10? About a 12,” Al Archibald judged his excitement level.
“My standing joke to Emma is she’ll be there, in her room, and one of her girlfriends will come in and say ‘Who’s that old guy in the corner?’ And she’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s my dad, he’s just waiting for his tee time.’”
Emma had set her sights on attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., after high school, until a family vacation last year to England and France. After one day in London, she told her mother she wanted to attend university in the U.K.
“It was just such a cool environment,” Emma said. “We went to Paris, too, and Paris felt like somewhere you’d visit, but London felt like somewhere you’d stay.
“It looked like cities around here, but with a different culture, different food and all the shops. I just liked the atmosphere.
“We stayed with my dad’s boss, and his wife said ‘Well, actually, there’s a school in Scotland called St. Andrews.’ I went home, I Googled it, spent all summer researching it and decided I was going to try to go to St. Andrews.”
Fewer than 10 per cent of applicants to St. Andrews are admitted and her parents told her it would be too expensive even if she did get in. But then the family learned about the McEuen Foundation, which awards one scholarship each year to a Canadian student.
Emma wrote a 500-word essay on why she wanted to go and compiled a resume of her varied extracurricular activities, along with two reference letters. Soon after she was accepted into the university, she learned she’d made it to the foundation’s shortlist of six people for the scholarship and would fly to Ottawa to be interviewed.
“I wasn’t nervous for the interview, I was excited, because I thought I had a better chance of being able to talk my way in, I guess. But after, I got really nervous and I barely got to the elevator before I started crying,” she said.
“I guess the hardest question was ‘Why do you want to go?’ They asked me about my activities, and because I’m a twin they wanted to know how I’d feel going away from my twin.”
Emma also discussed with the committee the extended essay she completed as part of her International Baccalaureate diploma, which was on the philosophy of diagnosing mental disorders. The next day, she got a phone call telling her she was this year’s McEuen winner.
“They don’t really put a value on it, they just say it covers all tuition and accommodation, but there’s a student calculator on the St. Andrews website and it’s about $200,000 for the four years,” she said.
“The same amount as our house. That’s what I told the selection committee when they asked why I wanted the scholarship. I was like, ‘Well, I really want to go but it costs the same amount as my house and my parents aren’t ready to sell the house.’”
John Aylen, a member of the scholarship selection committee, said all the kids who were short-listed have “ridiculously” good marks and that the process is extremely competitive.
“We’re looking to provide these kids with a life-changing experience and they have to be up to it, academically and socially,” he said. “It takes some maturity at that age to incorporate yourself into a new community, a new country.”
Emma didn’t know that Prince William had attended St.Andrews when she began the application process, but she has been asked several times if she hopes to land her own prince.
“Apparently there’s some stat that 90 per cent of St. Andrews graduates marry someone they met there,” she said. “I didn’t know any of this stuff when I was first applying, I didn’t know about Will and Kate until after I decided I wanted to go there. My sister is more into that kind of stuff.”