St. Paul's International Development grad wins $20,000 fellowship

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ian PinnellSt. Paul's alumnus Ian Pinnell, who graduated from International Development just this term, has won a fellowship worth $20,000 at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

The eight-month fellowship, called Studio [Y], focuses on social innovation. Ian was selected largely for his work with the National Youth Council of Malawi on his World University Service of Canada (WUSC) field placement.

Sam Toman, communications officer in the Faculty of Environment, asked Ian about the fellowship, why he was selected, and what he hopes to achieve while at MaRS.

What is the MaRS fellowship?

Studio [Y] is based out of the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and is focused on learning, leadership, and social innovation. This will be the third cohort, bringing together 25 youth change-makers from across Ontario and helping equip us with the skills, connections and opportunities to tackle issues facing our communities. 

The experience lets us learn critical 21st-century skills we need to solve complex problems: Build networks with peers, mentors, coaches, and leaders; pursue our innovative ideas for bold change in society; and work on real-world challenges with partners from across sectors.

How were you selected?

I found out about the fellowship online and started looking into it. It seemed like the perfect fit for me. I could continue to learn, but also work to solve real-world issues. I knew it was going to be very competitive but I decided to submit an application and hope for the best. In all honesty, I was completely blown away when I got invited to participate in the selection weekend in early May and again when I got the email saying I was invited to join the cohort. 

What will you be doing there?

Studio [Y] is part education, mixing self-directed learning with guidance and coaching, and part action. Through individual projects and collaborative group actions, we will be working to address real-world issues as we continue to learn and grow. The fellowship is divided into four key components; learning, individual projects, collaborative action and building connections. This will allow us to learn by doing, working on real-world problems with a supportive team who pushes us to take risks and helps us learn from our mistakes.

Why do you think they selected you?

Through the application process they said they were looking at both my past experiences, as well as at my character in general. For Studio [Y], they said they were looking for people who ask big questions, challenge the status quo, are driven by passion, empathy, curiosity, and an approach to life with the philosophy of "what if?" 

Through my time at UWaterloo, and specifically with the Sigma Chi Fraternity, I have had countless opportunities to grow and develop as a person and as a leader. Much of this has been through helping to address issues that I am passionate about, such as working with my fraternity to get men involved discussions about preventing sexual assault through our Break the Silence video. These experiences, and the lessons that they have taught me, have played a formative role in who I am. 

Through my application and the interview process, I guess the Studio [Y] team saw the passion I feel about making a difference and wanted to help me further my impact on communities in Canada and abroad. I'm incredibly honoured to be selected and can't wait to get started in September.

How did your time in INDEV pave the way for this opportunity?

I feel that my eight-month field placement working in Malawi as part of my degree likely played a major role in me getting this opportunity. Through the field placement, I realized that I love learning, but I love to learn by doing, not necessarily by sitting in a lecture. Studio [Y] appeared as the perfect fit, allowing me to continue developing into a better leader and change-maker by working with others to address issues facing communities in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world.

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