Feb. 27, 2024

5 UCalgary students and graduates in running for global McCall MacBain Scholarships

Finalists will learn in spring if they are chosen to receive full funding to pursue master's degree in Montreal

Four University of Calgary students and a graduate are finalists for the McCall MacBain Scholarships, Canada’s largest leadership-based scholarships for master’s and professional studies.

Designed to encourage purposeful leadership, the scholarships enable students to pursue a fully funded master’s or professional degree at McGill University in Montreal while participating in mentorship, coaching, and a leadership development program. Each finalist was chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity.

Congrats to our finalists

A woman in a black hijab and a white and black top smiles at the camera in front of green leaves

Muna Abdulfatah Ahmed

Muna Abdulfatah Ahmed, BSW’23, works as a youth engagement co-ordinator at Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters (BGCBigs), a youth-serving agency in Edmonton. In this role, she collaborated with other agencies to hold a virtual Black History Month event for over 100 children and youth. 

Ahmed volunteers as a mentor, helps facilitate a collective of Muslim youth interested in tackling anti-Black racism, and serves on the board of her mosque. She also gives back to the University of Calgary Scholars Academy program as a mentor and participated in the program as a UCalgary student. 

Ahmed is interested in studying social work at McGill. 

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William Betzner

William Betzner, MSc’24, is currently completing a master's degree in neuroscience at the University of Calgary, researching dementia patients' post-stroke experiences, and holds a bachelor's degree in physiology from the University of Alberta. 

He co-leads a national committee of trainees in stroke research, works two part-time jobs, and has been helping organize events for his local community association since 2013. Betzner also started and runs a fly fishing guiding and instruction company, which blends his passion with conservation and accessibility, and managed the installation of a community fridge. 

He hopes to enter medical school at McGill.

A woman in a denim button down with long dark hair smiles at the camera

Paige Boklaschuk

Paige Boklaschuk, BSc’24, is studying kinesiology at the University of Calgary. A national rock-climbing athlete for seven years, she has given back to the sport by coaching a youth team, serving as the performance chair of the provincial climbing association, and creating a yoga, science, and discussion group for women athletes. 

Boklaschuk also serves on her faculty's equity, diversity, and inclusion committee and volunteers as a yoga instructor at an exercise centre for people living with cancer. She is applying for master's programs in epidemiology and kinesiology. Boklaschuk is a member of UCalgary’s Scholars Academy program.

A woman with dark curly hair and a pink top smiles at the camera

Ivana Okaro

A neuroscience student, Ivana Okaro, BSc’24, launched the local chapter of the Canadian Association for Girls in Science to encourage girls and gender-diverse youth to pursue science. 

She leads a team of science student ambassadors on campus, runs a website for minority science students, and operates a business crafting wigs for clients. Okaro also volunteers at a hospital. 

She is interested in master's programs related to developing medical innovations in paediatric care.


A man in a blue suit smiles at the camera

Abhay Parmar

Abhay Parmar, BSc’24, is a psychology student at the University of Calgary. He manages finances for a men's mental health group, volunteers in the emergency room of a hospital, and writes a blog where he shares personal short stories and poems. 

Recently, Parmar contributed to a team that placed in the top five for a world challenges competition. He works part-time at a bank and conducts research on the effects of a new therapy method on ADHD, OCD, and other neurodivergent conditions. 

Parmar plans to pursue a master's degree in psychology at McGill. 


Regional scholarship recipients

Additional University of Calgary students were among the top candidates in the McCall MacBain Scholarships selection process. Julien Lagacé, BSc’24, and Keerthana Chockalingam, BHSc'24, earned $5,000 McCall MacBain Regional Awards. The regional award may be applied to eligible studies at any public university in Canada. 

A man in a sweater smiles at the camera

Julien Lagacé

A woman in a checkered shirt smiles at the camera

Keerthana Chockalingam


Scholarships explore beyond a student’s academic achievement 

“Integrity, kindness, curiosity, and courage are the characteristics we want to see in the next generation of leaders,” says Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, chair of the McCall MacBain Scholarships at McGill. “By connecting emerging talent to an outstanding graduate education and a community of peers and mentors, we hope to encourage positive leadership for Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and the world.” 

A cohort of up to 30 McCall MacBain Scholars will be selected after final interviews. Canadian finalists who are not selected for the cohort will be eligible to receive a $10,000 Finalist Award. 

Applications will open in June 2024 for the 2025 cohort. In addition to the 30 fully funded McCall MacBain Scholarships each year, up to 100 additional awards, valued at $5,000 to $20,000, are offered to candidates. Learn more about the McCall MacBain Scholarships. 

The scholarships are the result of a landmark $200-million gift in 2019 by John and Marcy McCall MacBain, then the largest single donation in Canadian history.  

UCalgary students who are interested in applying for a McCall MacBain Scholarship in 2024 are encouraged to register for updates from the McCall MacBain Foundation. Students can also connect with Dr. Jared Secord, PhD, co-ordinator of scholars programs in the Student Success Centre. Finally, students interested in learning more about scholarship opportunities and applications to professional or graduate schools can also sign up for email updates from the Aspire program.

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