The University of Winnipeg



Biology student awarded competitive McCall McBain Scholarship

Josh Swain. ©UWinnipeg.

At the end of a rigorous six-month scholarship application process, including two rounds of interviews, University of Winnipeg student Josh Swain (BSc’21) joined a life-changing Zoom call.

On the call, Swain learned that he was among 20 Canadians chosen as inaugural McCall MacBain Scholars, recipients of the country’s first comprehensive leadership-based scholarship for master’s and professional studies.

One of the most important things I encountered at UWinnipeg was a strong group of Indigenous science students pursuing their dreams and taking on graduate programs.

Josh Swain

The scholarship enables students to pursue a fully funded master’s or professional degree at McGill University while connecting with mentors and participating in an intensive leadership development program.

More than 735 people applied for the McCall MacBain Scholarships, 132 participated in regional interviews with local leaders in November, and 50 were invited to final interviews in March. Scholars were chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity.

Swain engages with his Métis heritage by helping run .caISES, a campus group that supports Indigenous students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Last year, he also helped teach biology and financial literacy to Indigenous students. Swain worked for seven years before beginning his undergraduate studies at The University of Winnipeg in 2016, and continued to work part-time at a restaurant during his studies.

“It is actually quite difficult to put into words what I am feeling right now,” Swain said. “This has been such an incredibly enriching journey – just the entire application process itself and getting to know the other students and how many incredible young people in this country are working for their communities. To now be recognized as one of the McCall MacBain Scholars is one of the greatest honours of my lifetime.”

Swain will enter the Master of Science in Public Health program at McGill. He credits his undergraduate education at The University of Winnipeg with preparing him for this opportunity.

“One of the most important things I encountered at UWinnipeg was a strong group of Indigenous science students pursuing their dreams and taking on graduate programs. It was so inspiring, and I consider each of those students friends for a lifetime. I also had some incredible mentors within the faculty who encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone even further, apply for research grants, and take on some of the more difficult higher-level courses that opened my eyes to public health.”

UWinnipeg students receive entrance awards

In addition to selecting 20 McCall MacBain Scholars, the McCall MacBain Scholarships program and McGill University offered 55 entrance awards of $5,000 or $10,000 each to promising candidates. Two University of Winnipeg students, Sophia Hershfield and Chanelle Lajoie, have been offered $10,000 McCall MacBain Finalist Awards toward their master’s or professional studies.

“The global challenges we face as a society need the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of these scholars,” said John McCall MacBain, who, together with his wife Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, created these scholarships through a historic $200 million gift. “Through this scholarship program, they’ll have opportunities to deepen their knowledge, develop their leadership skills, and create meaningful connections that will enable them to bring about positive change. We want to congratulate these students and recognize the hundreds of candidates across Canada who were considered for this scholarship.”

Outreach is already underway for the second class of McCall MacBain Scholars, with the application period opening in June. The program will expand internationally over the next decade, with nearly 300 McCall MacBain Scholars selected by 2030.