Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer
Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer

“We have one more question for you,” the Rhodes people told Joanna Klimczak, a graduate student in McGill’s International Management Program, and Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer, a student in the Faculty of Medicine, in separate phone calls Saturday night.

“In the event that you were awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for 2015, would you accept it?”

Both had difficulty formulating coherent answers as they digested the news that they had won coveted Rhodes Scholarships that provide the means for two years of study at Oxford. It is the most prestigious scholarship in the world.

Mappin-Kasirer, fresh from a BA in French literature at Yale, is plunging into a totally different field, medicine, and glad to be back in his hometown of Montreal. If part of his last name looks familiar to McGillians, it should. His father is former Law dean and now Quebec Court of Appeals Justice Nicholas Kasirer.

He’s hoping to study global health subjects at Oxford along with a dash of bioethics and health politics, while keeping his hand in the Humanities with a study of literature at perhaps one of the best places in the world to pursue that field.

Mappin-Kasirer, 22, said it’s hard to predict his future based on the dramatic turn it just took over the weekend, but he sees himself in 10 years as a doctor working in Montreal. It’s too early, he said, to say which branch of medicine.

But it’s likely he’ll provide some service to the community above and beyond the normal call. While at Yale, he organized his fencing team to find time and ways to help out at homeless shelters and in area schools in New Haven, Conn. Most of their contributions were in tutoring at-risk youth, something he has in common with Klimczak.

Rhodes scholars are generally evaluated on their academic record, the ways in which they have contributed to their communities, and their athleticism.

In Mappin-Kasirer’s case, the athletics are targeted on fencing. He’s been fencing since before he was a teenager and was a member of Team Canada in 2009. His Yale squad took the Silver medal at the inaugural United States Collegiate Squad Championships in 2010-11.

But surely a Montreal boy knows how to play hockey, too? “Oh, yeah, of course,” he said, before noting “my Dad is forever a better hockey player than me.”

Click here to read the full story in the McGill Reporter

December 3, 2014