December 06, 2011



Attention editors: a high resolution photo of Sheiry Dhillon can be downloaded at


McMaster health sciences student awarded a prestigious Rhodes scholarship


Hamilton, Ont. December 06, 2011Her elder sister was born in a small rural home in India, a country with a shockingly high maternal mortality rate. There, her mother gave birth on wooden frame covered in a woven cloth and the umbilical cord was cut with household scissors.  No medical professionals were present. 


In stark contrast, Sheiry Dhillon was born in an Ontario hospital, in a sterile and safe environment, with a fully equipped obstetric and neonatal team ready to handle any complications.


That jarring difference in circumstances and the drastic social inequity that her own family experienced would shape Dhillon’s life and push her to level the playing field.


“As a child, I remember being a naïve young humanitarian with a longing to protect the vulnerable and alleviate suffering,” says Dhillon.  “I began small, often confronting the playground bully or sheltering animals on our kitchen floor.”


A fourth-year Bachelor of Health Sciences student specializing in global health, Dhillon has been chosen as one of two students who will represent Ontario as Rhodes Scholars.

“This is such a thrilling opportunity,” she says.  “To be part of the Rhodes community is remarkable and to ‘fight the world’s fight’ as many Rhodes scholars often say. This provides me with the resources and education to make real change.” 


The scholarships provide students from around the world the opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in England for two to three years.


“Sheiry is an outstanding scholar who combines a commitment to academic excellence with impressive leadership qualities and a passionate regard for the welfare of others,” says Patrick Deane, president of McMaster.  “She does not view her education as an end in itself but rather is deeply committed to using her education to improve life for others.”


Much of her motivation comes from her parents, who immigrated to Canada from India in 1989 to provide of better life for their children. The family now lives in Brampton.


Dhillon plans to pursue her research interests in global health science and sees her education at Oxford as an integral step to reaching those goals she first set as a small child.


“Social inequity has driven my pursuit of knowledge for my entire life,” she says. “I use my mother’s story as just one example of a greater cause to which I hope to dedicate my life’s work.”


The Rhodes Scholarship is a postgraduate award supporting exceptional students at the University of Oxford in England. Established in the will of Cecil Rhodes in 1902, the Rhodes is the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious international scholarship program in the world.


Rhodes’ vision was to develop outstanding leaders who would be motivated to "fight the world's fight," and his will outlined four criteria: literary and scholastic attainments; energy; selflessness, devotion and sympathy for the weak; and leadership.


McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 150,000 alumni in 128 countries.





For more information, please contact:



Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager

McMaster University

905-525-9140, ext. 22869


Wade Hemsworth

Public Relations Manager

McMaster University

905-525-9140, ext. 27988