June 7, 2019

Class of 2019: UCalgary's Rhodes Scholarship finalists cross the stage

High-achieving students ready for the next challenge
Heather Berringer, left and Kelsea Gorzo.

Heather Berringer, left and Kelsea Gorzo.

In 2018, three exceptional UCalgary students — Rahul Arora, Heather Berringer and Kelsea Gorzo — were shortlisted for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, and Arora was later named UCalgary’s 16th Rhodes Scholar. With all three having crossed the stage at convocation this week, this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the other two outstanding finalists.

Heather Berringer, BSc (Honours) in Mathematics

Heather Berringer excelled as a student, athlete and mentor during her time at UCalgary. She came to UCalgary with an athletic scholarship and was a member of Dinos Varsity Women’s Soccer. With a passion for pure mathematics, she received the 25th Anniversary Scholarship in Statistics, the Vivian Stevenson Scholarship and two Undergraduate Merit Awards. Her research in discrete geometry received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC).

Berringer noticed gender inequality in recruitment, promotion and funding trends in mathematics, so she joined the Women in Science and Engineering Club to partner with other students to make a change. The club gave her the opportunity to advocate for female mathematicians and mentor other women in STEM.

Berringer is attending the University of Cambridge next fall to complete a master’s degree in applied mathematics.

“The strength of support and community characterized all facets of my undergraduate experience,” she said. “To my teammates on the Dino's soccer team, the Arts and Science Honours Academy program, the people in the Department of Mathematics and the professors who believed in me: thank you for these incredible years.”

Kelsea Gorzo, BSc (Honours) in Neuroscience

Gorzo received over a dozen scholarship and research grants including the Alberta Innovations Health Solutions Research Grant, the University of Calgary Merit Scholarship and the Jimmie Condon Athletic Scholarship. Focusing on exercise-induced neurogenesis, she studied exercise’s effect on brain physiology and overall mental health — research that could help develop treatment for age-related memory loss and other conditions.

Gorzo also captained the Dinos tennis team and taught children as a certified coach with Tennis Canada.

She is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience in Dr. Grant Gordon’s lab at UCalgary, where she hopes to better understand how astrocytes regulate neuronal plasticity in both healthy and diseased brains.

“Originally, my intention for completing an undergraduate degree was to reach the next step required in my ultimate goal of becoming a physician,” said Gorzo. “Little did I know it would open up my eyes to a world of new and exciting opportunities. UCalgary has provided me with the knowledge and support to conduct research alongside leading neuroscientists, which sparked my curiosity towards the brain. Four years ago, I never would have thought that I would now be pursuing a career as a neuroscientist. Although I leave my undergraduate degree with many more questions about the brain than answers, I am excited to employ the many skills and experiences I have gained at UCalgary to develop solutions to these very questions.”