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This article was published 16/4/2021 (191 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Knowing he wanted to do graduate studies and finding the funding for it was a problem a South Osborne resident was puzzling through, until he got the opportunity of a lifetime.
Josh Swain was thrilled to learn recently he is 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.
"There were 735 other applicants for this program. I was so excited when I was chosen. This is going to give me a fully-funded master’s program ride, including the cost of tuition, a living stipend and a good portion of the moving expenses to McGill University in Montreal," Swain said, adding the program has a leadership component that fits right in with his drive to help other students.
Swain currently is a biology student at the University of Winnipeg and expects to graduate this spring with a bachelor of science. In the fall, he will enter the master of science in public health program at McGill.
Before being accepted, Swain had to go through two rounds of virtual interviews, including a regional one, and a final interview in March.
"I started the application back in July, so it’s been a pretty long process," he said, adding he’d first heard of the program through the Aboriginal Student Services Centre at the U of W. "I had to write three different essays, including a personal statement, and showing my connection to the community, my leadership and personal growth and my academic career."
The scholars were chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength, and intellectual curiosity, according to a press release from the University of Winnipeg. Along with their studies, the students will participate in an intensive leadership development program.
Swain, who is Métis, helps run .caISES, a campus group that supports Indigenous students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Last year, he helped teach biology and financial literacy to Indigenous students. He’s also on the equity and inclusion committee in the biology department.
Swain worked for seven years before beginning his undergraduate studies at the University of Winnipeg in 2016 and continued to work part-time at the Keg’s downtown restaurant during his studies.
"I’m a non-traditional mature student," he said. "I graduated from Assiniboine Community College with a diploma in business administration specializing in finance. I worked in that sector, until I realized I wanted to go back to school. I had to develop good study habits at first, but realized I really enjoy being in school."
Since accepting the McCall McBain scholarship, he has been a part of bi-weekly virtual sessions with his fellow students.
"We hear lectures from community leaders. We do enrichment work. We’re all learning from each other," he said, adding other students will be using their scholarship to study law, medicine, urban planning, political science and more at McGill. "We have a virtual coffee room where we can hang out and meet each other."
He and his partner recently bought a condo, which they’ll be renting out while they move to Montreal.
"Being fully-funded lifted this huge weight off my shoulders," he said, adding he’s hoping to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before making the move.
He’s looking forward to studying public health, which looks into the social determinants of health, including health policies and ethics, global dynamics, infectious diseases and the environment.
"I was also accepted into the epidemiology master’s program, but the public health program includes a work practicum," he said.
Swain is planning to put his master’s degree to use working in the Indigenous community, especially in Canada’s north.
"Every northern community is different, with a fly-in doctor or a nursing station, but they all have one thing in common: they don’t have adequate access to good health care," he said. "I want to be an advocate for good health care for Indigenous people."
"This has been such an incredibly enriching journey — just the entire application process itself and getting to know the other students and how many incredible young people in this country are working for their communities. To now be recognized as one of the McCall MacBain Scholars is one of the greatest honours of my lifetime."