First cohort of graduate students become Wilson Leadership Scholars

The first graduate student winners of the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award have been selected. Each year, the cohort of Wilson Leaders will now include three graduate and three undergraduate students.

Ahmednur Ali, Elise Desjardins and Stephanie Hatzifilalithis form the first graduate cohort, and the fourth cohort of Wilson Leaders overall. They join undergraduate Wilson Leaders Sarah Brooks, Erik Joy, and Carol Markos.

Graduate Wilson Leaders receive $12,500 in direct funding, and up to $12,500 in experiential funding. Like undergraduate Wilson Leaders, they also receive coaching and mentorship, lead problem-based learning sessions on national issues, learn from visiting speakers, and design and head a community project.

“We were pleased to have so many excellent applicants, especially since the award is newly open to graduate students,” says Sean Van Koughnett, Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning) and Dean of Students, and director of the award. “All of the applications showcased how creative McMaster students are in their approaches to national and global issues.”

Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and Acting President David Farrar joined the selection committee this year. He notes that the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award provides students with another set of opportunities to serve the social, cultural, and economic needs of our community and our society. “It’s encouraging to see how Chancellor Emeritus L.R. Wilson’s vision for the award aligns with what we’re trying to do as an institution, and with what students want to do: apply their learning in well-thought out ways to make the world a better place.”

Ahmednur Ali is a Health Policy PhD candidate. His experience working for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care ignited his interest in making preventative health services more efficient and appealing, and in better coordinating care and disease management.

Elise Desjardins is a Masters of Public Health student who co-authored the Friendly Streets Toolkit: A resident’s guide to creating safer and vibrant streets for walking and biking in Hamilton. Her research centres on designing cities to facilitate healthy, sustainable mobility. 

Stephanie Hatzifilalithis is a PhD candidate in the Department of Health, Aging, and Society. While studying in the UK and Greece, she developed and managed intergenerational programs that later sparked her interest in intergenerational co-housing and its application in a Canadian context.

“Wilson Foundation President, Pete Sharpe, and I are proud of the Wilson Leaders,” states program founder L.R. Wilson. “We hope they will make the most of the experiences ahead, as they become the critical thinkers, decision makers, and innovators that Canada needs.” 

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