At the end of a rigorous six-month scholarship application process, including two rounds of interviews, University of Waterloo student Nathan Duarte (BASc'21) joined a Zoom call that, in his words, left him both deeply humbled and excited.
On the call, Nathan 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.
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.
Nathan co-founded UW's biotechnology and bioengineering conference in 2016 and subsequently grew it to a 500-person event. He led the management consulting student club and served as the academic representative for his program cohort. This past year, he joined his mentor in building SeroTracker, a platform visualizing COVID-19 antibody test results, and led the team’s efforts to track approximately 1,600 employers’ responses to the pandemic. Nathan spent his summers working in research, hardware engineering, and consulting.
“I couldn’t stop smiling when I heard the news,” Nathan said. “To me, this scholarship is a vote of confidence — in the scholars, but also in the potential for Canadians to continue shaping the world. I cannot thank my family, friends, and mentors enough for their support, which has been core to my growth as a person and to the work I have done. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the McGill and Montréal communities as I begin the next chapter of my life.”
Nathan will pursue a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at McGill. “I’m interested in how health sensors, like the ones in a smartwatch, can be used to improve decision-making — on the part of individuals, clinicians, and public health officials. The need for advanced sensing hardware is only part of what makes realizing this vision tough. There are also significant challenges around algorithms and bias, equity and access, privacy and policy, and more.”
“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.”
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 students from University of Waterloo, Laurie Haig and Matthew Gerrits, were offered regional awards for their graduate studies at any public university in Canada.
Outreach is already underway for the second class of McCall MacBain Scholars, with the application period opening in June. Canadian students and alumni can visit mccallmacbainscholars.org to learn about applying for Fall 2022 admission.
Nathan encourages other UW students to consider applying for the scholarship: “On one hand, the saying ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ rings true. More often than not, you’ll surprise yourself. Trust in yourself and the work you’ve done, put your best foot forward, and let the selection committees do the rest. On the other hand, the application and interview process is, in and of itself, highly formative. Regardless of the outcome, you will emerge with a better understanding of who you are and what you want to do in the world. And, to me, that is compelling on its own.”
The program will expand internationally over the next decade, with nearly 300 McCall MacBain Scholars selected by 2030.