In late March, University of Winnipeg student Sidney Leggett (BSc, Hons 22) had the unique opportunity to join aspiring leaders from across Canada at McCall MacBain Scholarship final interviews in Montréal.
I hope to further pursue how to find impactful and innovative ways to empower Indigenous youth to follow their dreams.
Upon her return to Winnipeg, Leggett received a life-changing video call from Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain and the scholarship staff – she had been chosen as a McCall MacBain Scholar.
“Receiving the news felt so surreal. I was surprised to get the call when I did. It felt like I was living in a dream.,” she said. “That I made it through this whole process, and to come out the other side as one of the McCall MacBain Scholars, is so exciting.”
Leggett will join a class of 20 scholars, chosen from nearly 700 Canadian applicants through a rigorous seven-month process involving two rounds of interviews. As a McCall MacBain Scholar, she will pursue a fully funded master’s degree at McGill University while connecting with mentors and participating in an intensive leadership development program. The scholarship funding covers the program’s tuition and fees, as well as a living stipend of $2,000 per month.
“Sidney is an exceptional student with a very bright future ahead of her,” said UWinnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Todd Mondor. “We are very proud of her, as well as of her mentors and supporters at UWinnipeg, including Dr. Melanie Martin, who provided research opportunities and encouraged her intellectual curiosity.”
While completing a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science and Data Analysis at the University of Winnipeg, Leggett built the website of The Canadian Indigenous Science and Engineering Society, a campus group for Indigenous students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and previously served as the group’s treasurer. She also worked to revitalize the data collection process for Waterways; a youth-focused, Indigenous-led non-profit organization, and built a story-catching website in collaboration with Indigenous community members from three cities.
Leggett worked four part-time jobs during the school year and spent two summers working as a junior epidemiologist and research intern. She will begin a Master of Science in Epidemiology, which will help lay the foundation for a career in Indigenous research.
“I hope to further pursue how to find impactful and innovative ways to empower Indigenous youth to follow their dreams,” she said.
“We need inclusive, collaborative, and forward-thinking leaders in all sectors and fields,” said John McCall MacBain, who, together with his wife Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain, created these scholarships through a historic gift to McGill University. “With this scholarship, students will expand their networks, deepen their leadership skills, and benefit from full funding to pursue their dreams of improving their communities – and the world. Congratulations to these students and the hundreds of candidates across Canada who were considered for this scholarship.”
Each scholar was chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity.
“Our new scholars have taken different paths towards this moment and will contribute unique perspectives to the scholarship community,” said Natasha Sawh, Dean of the McCall MacBain Scholarships. “The selection committees looked for leadership potential, a willingness to engage with diverse perspectives, and traits like empathy, integrity, and grit. Our process incorporates a wide range of volunteer readers and interviewers, who understand the candidates and their varied experiences.”
More than 130 Canadian leaders volunteered their time to help select McCall MacBain Scholars. They reviewed nearly 700 applications, interviewed 146 students regionally, and invited 50 to a final set of interviews which took place in March. Information sessions for the first global cohort of McCall MacBain Scholars are currently underway, and applications will open in June.
Second Scholar in Two Years
Leggett is the second consecutive University of Winnipeg student to earn the McCall MacBain Scholarship. Biology student Josh Swain (BSc’21) was selected as an inaugural scholar in April 2021. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Health at McGill.
“Having a fully funded graduate program with mentorship and leadership training is incredible,” said Swain. “The program’s case-based learning activities are a really unique, practical, exciting way to approach leadership development, gain experience, and learn new skills.”
Both Swain and Leggett took part in The University of Winnipeg’s Pathway to Graduate Studies program (P2GS) which provides mentorship and research opportunities for Indigenous students in STEM. The next cohort of P2GS runs May 2 – 27, 2022.
“Sidney is an amazing student and I am so proud of her,” said Dr. Melanie Martin. “She started off a new field of research in my lab in the P2GS program and is returning this summer to analyze more data. She is doing amazing things and this award will allow her to reach even further.”