Dal alumni Caleigh Wong (DipEng’22, BA’22) and Chantel Findlay (BSc’21) are among 20 Canadian recipients of this year’s McCall MacBain Scholarships, the country’s first comprehensive leadership-based scholarship for master’s and professional studies.

The scholarships are the result of a landmark $200-million gift in 2019 by John and Marcy McCall MacBain to enable students to pursue a fully-funded master’s or professional degree at McGill, while participating in mentorship, coaching and a leadership development program.

Caleigh Wong to study political science

“Receiving the news that I had been selected as a scholar was incredibly emotional,” says Caleigh Wong, pictured right. “This scholarship represents validation for the work I have spent the past half decade of my life doing, and an amazing opportunity to advance it further. A life is made up of many dreams, and this is no doubt one of them.”

Originally from Malaysia, Wong is the co-founder of a non-profit organization addressing anti-Asian racism and editor-in-chief of its magazine. She recently graduated from Dalhousie with a degree in international development studies and a diploma in civil engineering as a Sexton Scholar. As a student, Wong chaired a refugee sponsorship group, participated in a women in politics summit, and gathered 10,000 signatures to petition for anti-racism courses in B.C. high schools. Wong was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces from 2017 to 2022, including a year deployed in Eastern Europe. She served as her home unit’s ethics officer, providing training on discrimination and harmful institutional culture to soldiers. As a McCall MacBain Scholar, Caleigh plans to pursue a master’s degree in political science at McGill.

Dal President praises ‘future leaders’

Each McCall MacBain scholar is chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity. Both Dalhousie students underwent a rigorous seven-month selection process involving two rounds of interviews. Students and graduates from more than 1,200 universities applied for the McCall MacBain Scholarships, with 242 participating in regional interviews with local leaders in October and November of 2022.

“We are thrilled to learn that Caleigh and Chantel are recipients of the prestigious McCall MacBain Scholarship,” says Frank Harvey, President and Vice-Chancellor of Dalhousie University (Acting). “Both have distinguished themselves in their studies and in their commitment to their communities. They will benefit tremendously from the generosity of John and Marcy McCall MacBain and the impact that the McCall MacBain scholarship will have in their lives as future leaders.”

Chantel Findlay to study health-care system

“In my master’s studies, I hope to further explore the current demands of our health-care systems and the areas in which are being underserved,” says Findlay, pictured right. “I want to understand how policies are made and transferred to the health-care team, and how they are being changed by listening to the needs of our health-care providers.”

Findlay studied neuroscience, microbiology, and immunology at Dalhousie, and is currently a qualifying-year student at McGill’s Ingram School of Nursing. She was involved with Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax from a young age and has given back as a volunteer junior leader and staff member. Findlay also managed public relations for a student society providing live music in seniors’ homes and hospitals, assisted an elderly family member every week during the pandemic, and volunteered with Kids Help Phone. She now volunteers at the Teddy Bear Hospital in Montreal and plans to enter the master’s degree in direct-entry nursing at McGill.

Wong and Findlay join three other Dalhousie students who have earned this major award: Anna Gaudet (BA’22), Fatima Beydoun (BA’21) and Caroline Merner (BA’17).

“Caleigh and Chantel’s selection is a tribute to the time and energy they have put into improving the lives of others,” said Natasha Sawh, Dean of the McCall MacBain Scholarships. “Our volunteers looked not only for academic strength, but for leadership qualities like integrity, kindness, grit, and an ability to motivate a team to address tough challenges.”

To recognize additional talent, the McCall MacBain Scholarships and McGill University also offered 96 entrance awards ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 each to top candidates who were not selected for the cohort. Dalhousie student Francesca Sivilotti earned a $5,000 regional award for her upcoming studies.

Altogether, this year’s 126 scholarships represent an estimated commitment of nearly $3.3 million in tuition and living costs alone, which will be complemented by mentorship and leadership development programming.

Applications will open in June 2023 for September 2024 admission.