Only one thing stands between Steven Langlois and a year of study at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Born and raised in Prince Albert, University of Saskatchewan research assistant Steven Langlois is currently seeking to raise $22,000 in order to study history at St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford for the 2014-15 academic year.
Despite impressive academic credentials leading to an offer from the University of Oxford, the Prince Albert product and University of Saskatchewan research assistant must still contend with the power of the almighty dollar.
“Society only goes forward when people are educated, essentially -- and for people who have the ability to get the highest education that they can, it’s pretty (crappy) when they’re denied that just because of money,” he said.
Langlois, 20, has been given the chance to study at St. Anne’s College in England for the 2014-15 year as the result of a unique partnership between the University of Oxford and the U of S.
The cost for one person to study at Oxford is approximately $50,000. With the U of S providing $28,000 in funding, this leaves Langlois and four other students who received the same offer to each come up with the remaining $22,000 on their own.
For Langlois, who is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in history, the challenge of raising so much money is surpassed only by his determination to realize his dream.
“If I have the potential to get the best education in the world, why shouldn’t I?” he asked.
Born in Prince Albert, Langlois attended St. John Community School and St. Mary High School before beginning his studies at the University of Saskatchewan in 2012.
His choice of degree stemmed from a longtime personal interest in history, particularly 20th century history.
“It’s just been a passion for me, essentially,” Langlois said. “I love studying, reading about and writing history. It’s something that I love doing.”
While most research assistants are enrolled in either a master’s or a PhD program, Langlois has the distinction of being the only undergraduate working in the university’s Historical Geographic Information Systems Lab.
One of his recent projects, under the guidance of Dr. Jim Clifford, has been digitizing 19th century maps of London to facilitate historical research.
Clifford’s own experience travelling to England proved influential for Langlois.
“He went to England for a year too and he said, ‘When I was in England, that’s when the seed of my interest in this subject showed up … This is when it kind of started, so it might start for you too.’”
An opportunity arose when, following discussions with Oxford, the U of S put out a call to all second year students with average marks above 80 per cent to apply for an offer to spend their third year of study at the English university.
Society only goes forward when people are educated, essentially -- and for people who have the ability to get the highest education that they can, it’s pretty (crappy) when they’re denied that just because of money. Steven Langlois
“It was very specific -- second year, taking your third year, Oxford -- and so I threw my hat in,” Langlois said. “I never thought I’d get in.”
Originally only two U of S students were to receive an offer to study at Oxford, but that number was later increased to five.
Aside from his excitement at the chance to study at such a world-famous institution, Langlois noted differences in Oxford’s education system.
Rather than traditional lectures, history classes at Oxford may involve a small number of students sitting in a room with a professor to discuss a book they had read before writing an essay on it.
“I’m not taking any tests while I’m there,” Langlois noted. “They throw tests out the window -- they don’t believe in them. Instead, it’s just highly focused reading and writing skills, essentially.”
To raise the $22,000 he needs to get to Oxford, Langlois has tried a variety of fundraising methods, starting with letters to local clubs and organizations.
He and his fellow U of S students have also considered crowdfunding online -- while noting that a similar effort entitled “I’m going to Oxford” was only able to raise approximately $500.
“In the works we've kind of thought of bake sales, steak nights, those kinds of things -- and then student loans, obviously, is what’s going to happen if I can’t raise anything else,” Langlois said.
He added that donations need not be monetary, but could also include items to help out with fundraisers (such as donating lobster tails to help stage a lobster night).
Though describing Oxford as relatively lenient when it comes to fee payments, Langlois made it clear that the sooner he is able to raise the funds, the better.
“They can deny your visa if you don’t have enough money,” he noted, adding, “If you show up and you don’t have enough money, they’ll just deny your visa and tell you to go back home.”
Anyone who wishes to contribute or donate may contact Langlois at 306-980-7171 or via email at email@example.com.