Meet Tess Casher — author, advocate, and Mount Allison’s 56th Rhodes Scholar

Honours English student heading to University of Oxford next fall to pursue Master’s
By: Laura Dillman Ripley 

Tess Casher has been awarded a 2023 Rhodes Scholarship from the University of Oxford — the 56th Allisonian to receive this honour.

“It still feels surreal, even though I found out in November,” Casher says. “I’m incredibly grateful to Mount Allison University and the English department for creating a dynamic supportive environment that enabled me to develop my passions and scholarship.”

The daughter of international school teachers, Casher grew up in Doha, Qatar and now calls Whitehorse, Yukon home.

Her list of accomplishments is long, including serving as co-President of the local World University Service of Canada (WUSC) chapter and helping to secure additional funding for a female Afghan student to attend Mount Allison. Casher worked as an intern with the WUSC national program in Summer 2022. She has also worked with the Supreme Court of Yukon, written for the What’s Up Yukon magazine, and climbed Denali, the highest peak in North America.

Through Mount Allison’s Reisman Internship program, Casher developed and wrote a middle-grade novel, Impedi(me)nts on Ice, which focuses on stuttering — a condition she has lived with and embraced her entire life. The book builds on the work in speech-impediment advocacy she formally began in 2018 when she delivered the TEDx talk ‘The Art of Stuttering.’ The book will be available on Amazon in June 2023.

“I wanted to aid other youth impacted by their speech,” says Casher.

Impedi(me)nts on Ice fosters representation of the stuttering experience and informs fluent speakers how they can compassionately communicate with someone who stutters.”

Casher says throughout her education she received support and encouragement from many, including at Mount Allison.

“Nobody ever told me the words, ‘Tess you can’t do something because you have a stutter.’ I wanted to share this encouragement with others who might not receive the same level of support,” says Casher.

An honours English student with a minor in religious studies, Casher holds many academic awards, including the Bell Scholarship, one of Mount Allison’s most prestigious entrance awards; the McKiel Scholarship for highest level of academic achievement in English; and the Ebutt Trust Scholarship, recognizing excellent performance in religious studies.

Casher has also worked to support her fellow students, both academically and in extracurricular activities. She has worked as a tutor and intern for the University’s Writing Resource Centre, a departmental teaching assistant, and volunteered as president of the English Society and editor-in-chief and president of the Atlantic Journal of International Studies.

Valued at more than $100,000, the Rhodes Scholarship is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world, covering the cost of postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in the U.K. With 56 scholars to date, Mount Allison has one of the best records, per capita, in Canada for the esteemed award.

Casher plans to obtain a MSt in English Literature with a focus on the Victorian era, beginning an academic career that explores literature’s influence on readers’ engagement with global challenges.