Wilson Leadership Scholar Award opens to graduate students

Wilson Leadership Scholarship

From left to right, Carol Markos, Indigenous Studies and Political Science, Erik Joy, Chemical and Bioengineering, and Sarah Brooks, Arts and Science; represent the third cohort of Leaders for the award, which was launched in 2016. Photo by Sarah Janes.

When interviewing finalists last April for the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award (WLSA), Sean Van Koughnett was impressed by the quality of the interviewees, most of whom were only part way through their second year of undergraduate study. The Associate Vice-President (Students & Learning) and Dean of Students realized that some of the candidates needed only a little more experience under their belt to compete for the substantial award.

He also knew that the award should not be limited to undergraduates. “What differentiates the WLSA from many other awards is a focus on leadership development,” says Van Koughnett, who serves as the award’s Director. “It’s for students who want to better understand the issues that Canada faces, and how we can address those issues. It’s for people who want to develop their leadership potential, make an impact, gain new experiences, and help launch their careers in the process.”

Donor and Chancellor Emeritus Lynton “Red” Wilson was similarly keen to expand the WLSA, though he knew that a fine balance must be achieved. So after three years focused on undergraduate students, the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award will look to recruit three promising graduate students for its next cohort.

The award will offer transformative new experiences, while complementing winners’ studies, and respecting the time required for graduate work. The one-year award will be comprised of $12,500 in direct funding, and up to $12,500 of funding for experiential learning opportunities. The approximately 90 hours of award programming is less than the time required for a teaching or research assistantship.

“The program we’ve created builds on what students are already doing,” promises Van Koughnett, “and that integration starts with the selection process. Applicants will need to demonstrate how their academic work relates to at least one of the central questions that the award concerns itself with: democracy, the economy, education, healthcare, impacts of technology, and public policy, all in a Canadian context.”

“We’ve seen such great things happen for our Wilson Leaders,” Van Koughnett muses, “from meeting leaders in their fields of interest, to developing lasting relationships with mentors, leading projects they thought were beyond them, and appreciating complex questions from different angles. I can’t wait to see what the graduate winners achieve.”

Applications for the graduate award are open until May 1, 2019. Nomination and application information can be found at wilsonleader.ca.

While this year’s applicants will come from the graduate pool, it is anticipated that applications for the following year (May 2020) will include both graduate and undergraduate streams.

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