5 McMaster students named McCall MacBain International Fellows

Headshots of 5 students alongside text that reads McCall MacBain International Fellows

Five McMaster students are part of a cohort of 19 undergraduates selected to spend a fully funded year living, studying and working abroad.

Five McMaster students have been selected as McCall MacBain International Fellows, with an opportunity to spend a fully funded year abroad studying, living and working in a new country.

They are part of a cohort of 19 undergraduate students from across Canada who form the fifth cohort of McCall MacBain International Fellows.

Valued at up to $30,000, the Fellowship is designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn a language, participate actively and respectfully in a new community, build lasting international ties, and deepen their ability to work in a different cultural context.

The 2024-25 fellows will depart this summer, and will spend one term learning a new language, one term completing academic studies, and one term at a work or internship experience.

“John and I are delighted to announce the 2024 McCall MacBain International Fellows,” said Marcy McCall MacBain, Vice-Chair of the McCall MacBain Foundation.

“It is necessary for Canada to invest in long-term study abroad experiences to a range of destinations. As a Foundation, we believe investing in programs that encourage cultural understanding will better equip the next generation of leaders with the breadth of knowledge and experiences they will need to succeed.”

“We hope that the fellowship will allow these students to experience the joys of being immersed in another language and culture and develop skills that will in turn impact the ways they choose to lead in the future,” said Natasha Sawh, CEO of the McCall MacBain Scholarships offered by the Foundation.

The selection process for the McCall MacBain International Fellowships looks beyond academic achievement to examine students’ activities and pursuits in the service of their communities, their leadership experience, and their character.

To support them in planning their year abroad, the Fellows attended a pre-departure orientation over three days at McGill’s Gault Nature Reserve in May and have regular touchpoints with each other and with the Foundation team throughout the year.

By removing financial barriers to travel and international experiences, the fellowship provides students an unequalled opportunity, says Sean Van Koughnett, Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning) and Dean of Students.

“This is going to be a transformative experience for them,” he says “Not only will they study, work and learn a language abroad, they’ll also encounter many different perspectives. They’re already extraordinary students; the fellowship will empower them to become global citizens and leaders.”

The five McMaster fellows selected will travel to France, Argentina, Chile, and Japan (2). They study in a range of disciplines at McMaster, including Biology Research, Commerce, Health Sciences, Engineering Physics and Integrated Science.

To recognize others who distinguished themselves during the selection process, the McCall MacBain International Fellowships also offered four McMaster candidates grants valued at $6,000 to pursue an exchange abroad for one term next year.

Applications for the next cohort will open in October 2024 for departure in the summer of 2025.

Meet the McCall MacBain International Fellows from McMaster

Shuruthi | Health Sciences

Fellowship year: Spanish in Chile

Shuruthi’s passion for science led her to work as a research assistant with Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and as a summer student at Sunnybrook Health Sciences.

Outside the classroom, Shuruthi plays the veena, a classical Indian stringed instrument, directs plays, and is a coxswain on the varsity rowing team.

At McMaster, she founded MacRaga, a South Asian music ensemble to help increase South Asian cultural representation on campus. She is also a teacher in a spiritual education program providing mentorship to young people navigating life’s challenges. She is now excited to head to South America for her first time and start learning Spanish.

Sara | Commerce

Fellowship year: Japanese in Japan

Sara has been engaged in community service since a young age. As a teenager, she worked at a retirement home providing service to residents. Learning key lessons in relationship building, she started volunteering with Glamour Gals, a McMaster student group that gives makeovers to seniors at a nursing home, sharing with them joy and company.

Sara has also worked as a Childcare Educator with the YMCA helping engage children with innovative activities. Driven by curiosity and willingness to learn, she volunteered for the Rimini Meeting, an annual Catholic festival held in Italy where she had the opportunity to interact with visitors and staff and learn about Italian culture.

Sophie | Engineering Physics

Fellowship year: Japanese in Japan

Sophie builds innovative technological interventions to create an impact. As the Director of Web Development and UX with How2University, a student-led e-learning platform, Sophie builds technology to provide incoming students with information on post-secondary institutions.

She worked as an Energy Analyst at a local design firm, supporting city officials and builders to achieve their net-zero and LEED goals.

Sophie spends her summers improving her skills while working on new initiatives including building drones from 3-D printed parts, creating machine learning functions, and designing data visualization models for personal economics. She has also worked part-time as a cashier and as support staff at a fitness centre.

She has been learning Japanese in her free time and wants to finally explore the culture while developing her language skills.

Tazeen | Honours in Integrated Science with a Concentration in Biology

Fellowship year: French in France

Tazeen is involved in various peer activities helping young students find meaningful connections and support. As Resident Advisor, she organized events to help increase students’ sense of belonging, helping them navigate the challenges of university life. An active volunteer within the Ismaili community, she has helped fundraise for the World Partnership Walk for poverty alleviation and has been a Summer Camp Counsellor, helping create a safe and encouraging environment for young campers.

During COVID-19, noticing a personnel shortage, Tazeen volunteered at a local hospital to support with vaccine appointments, screening, and customer service. At McMaster, she also leads as the Vice-President of Sponsorships for Model United Nations.

Maia | Biology Research

Fellowship year: Spanish in Argentina

Maia is an ambitious tennis player and Captain of the McMaster Women’s Tennis Team. On campus, she adds to student life by supporting the planning of Welcome Week, working in the communications function for the Varsity Leadership Committee, and doing outreach and mobilization for Relay For Life, an effort to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Pursuing her love for sports, previously, Maia worked as a Lead Camp Counsellor for a local club, coaching beginner tennis and golf and has also contributed to community life through beach cleanups and environmental awareness activities.

About the McCall MacBain Foundation

The McCall MacBain Foundation’s mission is to improve the welfare of humanity by providing scholarships and other educational opportunities that nurture transformational leadership, and by investing in evidence-based strategies to address climate change, preserve our natural environment, and improve health outcomes.

The Foundation believes in the power of education, and scholarships in particular, to transform lives and in turn transform our communities to be fairer, healthier, and more prosperous for all; that climate change is the single most pressing problem facing our planet and that we must all do our part to address it; and in the importance of an evidence-based approach to youth mental-health and well-being.