Sarah McCuaig already impressed her coaches and teammates with her championship running skills, stunning grades and dedication to volunteering.

Now she's heading into rarefied territory by winning a Rhodes Scholarship.

This year McCuaig became the 13th McGill student-athlete to receive the prestigious academic prize, and according to people who know her she is very worthy of the achievement.

"You never really meet someone who combines talent and hard work and just natural ability with kind of morals and ethics the way she does," said track and field teammate Benjamin Wyman.

"She wakes up at 6 and starts studying. She gets 3.9, 4.0 in everything. She comes here, she dominates on the track."

Coach Dennis Barrett said McCuaig is a born leader.

"In terms of coming out to practice, taking initiative, volunteers, does a lot of volunteer work, and has never said no when asked to do something. Always ready, willing and able to help out. A tremendous ambassador for McGill University," said Barrett.

McCuaig is looking forward to studying at Oxford University and living in England for several years.

"I was in Australia when I was in high school for a science-related conference, but outside of that I really haven't been outside of North America," said McCuaig.

"It will be a whole new adventure, both academically and athletically and a life adventure really."

Becoming one of the 84 Rhodes Scholars named worldwide every year, 11 of them from Canada, requires more than academic achievement. McCuaig's top marks have put her on the Dean's Honour List but she is also captain of the McGill University track and cross-country teams, and in 2010-2011 was named the Reseau du sport etudiant du Quebec (RSEQ) conference athlete of the year.

She is also a regular volunteer at the Royal Victoria Hospital's Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit.

"It's a win/win situation because I absolutely love it. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't love it. I get to cuddle little premature babies," said McCuaig.

The Waterloo, Ontario native will head to England next summer, where she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Immunology.

"It will likely be called what they call at Oxford a D. Phil in Clinical Medicine, but I'll be specializing in immunology-related research," said McCuaig.

She also hopes to run her way onto Oxford's track team, and follow some impressive footsteps.

"The track where their team trains is the very track where Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile. He's always been an inspiration for me because he's a neurosurgeon," said McCuaig.

More proof than ever that a sound mind requires a sound body.

However before McCuaig crosses the pond she has challenges in Montreal to finish. She and her teammates have to finish final exams and host the Montreal Open track meet at McGill University on Dec. 15, 2012.