Stories from MPACS Student Support Fund recipients

Friday, March 1, 2019

Every year, Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) students benefit from the MPACS Student Support Fund, a scholarship available to students due to generous donations from Peace and Conflict Studies supporters. The following stories are from MPACS students that directly benefitted from donations to the MPACS Student Support Fund given by sponsors and attendees of the PACS 40th Anniversary Gala among others.

Chidinma Ewelike focuses on youth empowerment | Stephanie Schreuder builds bridges through diversity | Moffat Sithole strives to build peace and alleviate poverty


Chidinma Ewelike focuses on youth empowerment 

Chidinma Ewelike portrait photoChidinma Ewelike

Chidinma Ewelike is passionate about the role that civil society can play in peacebuilding, so when applying for graduate school, she was looking for a program that focused on the potential role of civil society in peace and conflict. Chidinma chose to apply to the MPACS program at Grebel because the program centres around the potential of civil society to advance peace through advocacy, programming, and engagement. Chidinma was also drawn to MPACS because the program is interdisciplinary, and it offers the opportunity for students to complete internships, thereby allowing students to gain experience and practical skills.

Receiving the MPACS Student Support Fund scholarship was a deciding factor for Chidinma when it came to applying for graduate programs. “I don't have to worry about covering my tuition fee and I can focus on other financial responsibilities,” Chidinma explained. Having tuition covered by the MPACS scholarship also allows Chidinma to focus on her studies full-time and only work part-time, rather than having to complete her studies on a part-time basis and work full-time.

Chidinma hopes to use the knowledge and skills gained through her MPACS education to benefit youth. More specifically, she plans to work with organizations that address youth peace education, youth empowerment, and leadership skills for youth. Chidinma may engage in a number of different areas of Peace and Conflict Studies-related work, because “it is a very broad discipline and I find that I am interested in many areas, including poverty alleviation, youth/women peace education, and reconciliation practices,” Chidinma noted. No matter which passion she ends up following, Chidinma is sure to achieve her goal of advancing peace through civil society.


Stephanie Schreuder builds bridges through diversity

Stephanie Shreuder portrait photoStephanie Schreuder 

Stephanie Schreuder applied to the MPACS program after working in the non-profit sector for a few years. “The MPACS program seemed to bring together all of my interests,” Stephanie stated. The variety of courses offered by the program, the small class sizes, and the flexibility of the program drew Stephanie to MPACS at Grebel. Further, “the interactions I had with staff, the program's unique focus on the critical role of civil society in advancing peace, and the MPACS scholarship solidified my decision to choose the MPACS program,” Stephanie explained.

For Stephanie, receiving a scholarship through the MPACS Student Support Fund eased the financial stress that often comes from paying for education. “Careers in NGOs and charities aren't often the highest paying jobs,” Stephanie noted, “so receiving an MPACS scholarship contributed to an incredible opportunity for me to pursue higher education.”

By using the skills and perspective gained through her MPACS education, Stephanie hopes to “engage in sustainable community change both locally and internationally.” Stephanie plans to continue her work in international development and in refugee resettlement in Kitchener, now with the skills that she is developing through the MPACS courses to “engage in difficult conversations and bring together strangers to see the beauty in diversity, while building bridges instead of walls.”


Moffat Sithole strives to build peace and alleviate poverty 

Moffat SitholeMoffat Sithole

Moffat Sithole grew up in colonial Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, during the period when many African countries were demanding independence from the European nations that had colonized them in the 19th century. These demands were often violent confrontations. “Nationalists in Rhodesia were waging a violent guerrilla civil war that saw thousands of lives lost,” Moffat shared. Moffat explained that he did not become a guerrilla soldier because “I believed in peaceful co-existence. My Christian principles taught me not to take life away but to preserve it.”

Moffat completed his undergraduate studies in Sociology at the University of Waterloo, and decided to minor in Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) because he enjoyed the PACS courses that he had taken as electives. Through his undergraduate studies, Moffat developed a passion for “making an impact in the world and becoming involved in peacebuilding and peacemaking.” As a response to this passion, Moffat applied to the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) program.

Receiving the MPACS Student Support Fund scholarship allowed Moffat to pursue his passion of peacebuilding. “I pursued my entire undergraduate program as a part time student because I had a family to support and was in full-time employment,” Moffat shared. But the MPACS scholarship “meant I would be able to pursue and complete my MPACS degree as planned. For this reason it completely impacted my career ambitions and overall education.”

Moffat has many plans for using his MPACS degree. “[MPACS] has opened to me all the possibilities of making a genuine change in the world by peacebuilding and peacemaking.” MPACS is helping Moffat figure out how he can be an effective peacebuilder by helping him discover who he is and where he fits into the peacebuilding process. Moffat hopes to continue his education by earning a PhD in human development in order to better fulfill his desire to work in peacebuilding and economic development to alleviate poverty.


Chidinma Ewelike focuses on youth empowerment | Stephanie Schreuder builds bridges through diversity | Moffat Sithole strives to build peace and alleviate poverty

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