Gardener, theatre enthusiast, and U of T graduate Edil Ga’al can now add Rhodes Scholar to her list of accomplishments.

The Victoria College student is among 11 Canadians to be awarded the scholarship this year. Double majoring in African Studies and Political Science with a minor in Equity Studies, Ga’al graduated with high distinction this summer.

Her academic achievements are not the only things that make her shine as a person. From friends and staff at Victoria to her mentor, Director of African Studies and Professor Marieme Lo, people across the communities that Ga’al has been involved with speak to her commitment to justice, equity, and inclusivity.

In early 2017, an eye-opening course took Ga’al to Gisenyi, Rwanda and inspired her to return that same summer as a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholar.

Working on educational inclusivity and community development, she wrote in her online testimony that her experience that summer “forced [her] to realize that no person is an island” and think beyond herself.

Apart from her studies into African experiences, this past February, Ga’al received funding through the University of Toronto Excellence Award for a research position with LGBTQ Families Speak Out, a project that explores the experiences of LGBTQ+ families in Ontario over a six-year period. She has also worked as stage manager with Gailey Road Productions on performances foregrounding LGBTQ+ experiences.

Ga’al joins 26 other U of T graduates who have been named Rhodes Scholars over the past 20 years.

Only two Ontarians can receive the Rhodes Scholarship each year out of 11 total Canadians. The scholarship includes an all-expenses-paid University of Oxford postgraduate education — up to three years for those also pursuing a PhD.

For Ga’al, this opens the door for a master’s degree in African Studies and a doctorate in International Development. Through her research, Ga’al hopes to contribute to a world with more peace, inclusion, and justice.  

Canadian Secretary of the Rhodes Trust and the Chair for the Rhodes Scholarship in Canada Richard Pan congratulated this year’s 11 Canadian Rhodes Scholars. In a press release, Pan wrote that the selection committee was deeply impressed by “the deep care the Scholars have shown for our most vulnerable communities, and the incredible passion with which they are applying their remarkable talents.” The Rhodes Trust has been awarding scholarships to exceptional students since 1902.

Besides her academic achievement, Ga’al is also simply a Manchester United fan — she received word of her scholarship while watching Bend It Like Beckham with her family. Among the many other amazing opportunities that come with her scholarship, Ga’al told U of T News that watching her first live Premier League match is a must on her to-do list.

She advised others to “seek out the experiences you think will be enriching to you… As with anything in life, don’t disqualify yourself.”