Two Dal Alumni Selected for Prestigious McCall MacBain Scholarships – Dal News

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Two Dal Alumni Selected for Prestigious McCall MacBain Scholarships – Dal News

Two Dalhousie alumni have been selected to receive McCall MacBain Scholarships this year. They are among 20 Canadians to receive the widely coveted award, a comprehensive, leadership-based Canada Scholarship for graduate and professional study.

Caleigh Wong (DipEng’22, BA’22), an alumna of Dahl’s international studies program who also earned a civil engineering degree during her time at the university, and Chantel Findlay (BSc’21), a neuroscience graduate, were selected from a pool of nearly 700 Canadian applicants.

The program, based at McGill University in Montreal, brings together students who seek to create positive change in their communities through engaged leadership. Applicants are evaluated on a variety of factors, including character, community involvement, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, intellectual curiosity and leadership potential.

“We are thrilled to learn that Kayleigh and Chantelle are recipients of the prestigious McCall MacBain Scholarship,” said Frank Harvey, Dalhousie’s president and vice chancellor (acting). “Both have excelled in their studies and in their commitment to their communities. They will benefit immensely from the generosity of John and Marcy McCall McBain and the impact the McCall McBain Scholarship will have in their lives as future leaders.”

Five Dahl students and alumni have received the scholarship over three years. Kayleigh and Chantelle join last year’s winner Anna Gaudet (BA’22) and Fatima Beidoun (BA’21) and Carolyn Merner (BA’21) who received the award in 2021.

Recipients receive full funding for tuition and fees, a stipend of $2,000 per month, connections to mentors, and the opportunity to participate in an intensive leadership development program.

Learn more about Caleigh and Chantel below:

Creating change from the inside out

Kayleigh Wong laughs as she remembers the first round of McCall McBain interviews. She was visiting her father in Malaysia, where she lived until she moved to Kelowna, British Columbia, with her mother at age 11, and had to join the interview virtually.

“I was sitting there at two in the morning in my business casual on my webcam,” she says, explaining the rather dramatic time difference between herself and the interview panel.

Even at such a late hour, Kayleigh says she enjoyed meeting some of the others who are also attending the first round online. So when the second set of interviews rolled around and she was able to attend in person in Montreal, she got to immerse herself in the experience even more intensely. “Whether I got it or not, I remember when I was there I thought it was going to be an experience I would remember forever.”

Kayleigh plans to study political science at McGill and will accept a fellowship at the Center for International Peace and Security Studies, where she will focus her research on ways Canada can improve its diplomatic processes.

“Eighty percent of peace agreements fail within five years,” says Keighley, who is currently a public policy intern at the Canadian Institute of Public Administration. “We know that women make peace more durable, that agreement is more likely to be reached, but we haven’t really questioned the structures of the diplomacy process that were founded and continue to be dominated by men.”

Kayleigh’s academic interests and views overlap in many ways with her broader advocacy efforts, many of which arose during her time as a Dahl student and reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces from 2017-2022. Five years of service – including a one-year deployment as part of a NATO mission in Eastern Europe during a break from her international research and engineering programs at Dal—led her deep into one of Canada’s largest bureaucracies. Her experience opened her eyes to some of the cultural challenges such as sexism, homophobia and racism. She served as an ethics officer in her unit, educating fellow soldiers about discrimination, and later served as a junior research fellow for Canada’s NATO Women in Security Association program.

Meanwhile, in her civilian life, Cayley became increasingly involved in advocacy on several issues, including anti-Asian racism. She led a petition calling for an anti-racism course in British Columbia high schools, which gained 10,000 signatures and led to the creation of a curriculum input committee on the issue. And she joined forces with four other Asian women she met at the Daughters of the Vote conference in Ottawa one summer to create the Asian Resilience Collective Canada. Last fall, the nonprofit launched ARCMag, a self-published collection of personal essays and artwork on a range of topics related to racial resilience and the Asian Canadian experience.

Pushing for change both from within and without organizations also led Cayley to a greater realization: that advocacy movements must be willing to engage directly with organizations, not simply confront them.

“You need people who are willing and able to bridge that gap and engage with people both inside and outside who are fighting for the same movement,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s such a setback for the greater cause.”

Putting people first

Chantel Findlay of Halifax is among the many people hoping to help reshape Canada’s health care system in the coming years.

Recent neurology graduate Dahl’s interest in health care began a decade ago when her paternal grandmother, who raised her, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. At the time, not much was known about the painful neurological disorder or what caused it, and Chantelle often attended the trip because her grandmother was involved in research trials. The experience left her with a strong interest in understanding the human brain and nervous system, which she later did as a student in Professor Aaron Newman’s neurocognitive imaging lab at Dahl.

“I am very proud to be a Dalhousie alumnus,” she says. “Dalhousie helped build the foundation for my love of academia and higher education, and I attribute my desire to continue to explore the world of healthcare and apply my knowledge through critical thinking and evaluation to the skills I learned at Dal.”

As a child, Chantelle was a regular at the local Boys and Girls Club in Halifax. She went there before and after school to escape the sometimes stressful home life where she felt she sometimes had to take on the role of an adult. Chantel remained involved with the organization as she grew up, taking on the role of junior leader and later positions as a summer camp and youth program coordinator. She calls it a “full-circle story.”

“It was my place to go and just be a kid for a few hours,” she says. “It really touched me as a kid and I knew I wanted to give back in this way.”

Chantelle’s commitment to helping people grew stronger in the years to come. At Dahl, she manages public relations for a student society providing live music to nursing homes and hospitals and volunteers with Kids Help Phone. She now volunteers at Montreal’s Teddy Bear Hospital, where she has spent the past eight months as a qualifying year student at McGill’s Ingram School of Nursing.

With her McCall MacBain Scholarship in hand, she will enter a Masters (Applied) in Nursing at McGill this fall with an eye toward further developing expertise in global health principles and putting her people skills at the service of health.

“With nursing, I really want to get into the political side of things, but I look at it from a different angle,” she says. “Instead of studying policy and implementing it from the top down, I want to include the voices of health care providers working on the ground in policy discussions.”

Dal student wins entry prize

Francesca Civilotti (BA’23), a student currently completing the Law, Justice and Society program at Dahl, won a regional award from the McCall MacBain Scholarships for her upcoming studies. This is one of 96 entrance awards offered by the McCall MacBain Fellowships and McGill University, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 each for top applicants not selected for the main cohort.

Applications for next year’s McCall MacBain Scholars cohort will open in June 2023 for intake in September 2024. Learn more.

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