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Scholarships help students make a lasting impact

Centre for Critical Development Studies student Jazba Singh meets Governor-General David Johnston earlier this year at the Dinner in Recognition of Principal Supporters of the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Programme at Rideau Hall. (Photo by: Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall, OSGG)

The Commonwealth feted Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, but the Centre for Critical Development Studies (CCDS) continues the celebration with its successful bid to the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program. The CCDS was recently awarded $500,000 in scholarship funds to be used over the next four years. 

Launched in March 2015, the QES were created in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60-year reign and to provide young global leaders throughout the Commonwealth with intercultural exchanges and experiential learning opportunities. Managed through a joint partnership of Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, and Canadian universities, the scholarships are made possible with financial support from the Government of Canada, provincial governments, and the private sector.

The CCDS’s strong foundation in development studies and coordinating overseas student internships made it a natural fit for the QES program. One of two applications from the University of Toronto, the CCDS proposal was submitted on behalf of its International Development Studies (IDS) Co-op Program. Now in its 30th year, the program offers a five-year undergraduate specialist degree that combines interdisciplinary curriculum with a co-op placement. During their fourth year of study, students spend eight to 12 months at an NGO or research institute in a developing country.

“We were a logical choice for the scholarships, given our existing partnerships with placement organizations, complementary infrastructure, and strong students,” said Professor Paul Kingston, director of the CCDS at the University of Toronto Scarborough. “It’s great to win a prestigious grant; it puts us on the map, provides terrific opportunities for recruitment and recognition, and highlights that UTSC is a happening place.”

On May 11, four IDS co-op students with placements in the Commonwealth’s Global South were presented with their scholarships at a reception at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, attended by scholarship winners from across Canada, as well as the Right Honourable Jean Chretien and the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, who were instrumental in establishing the QES.

“The scholarships recognize the great work of the students, professors, and staff in our department,” said Queen Elizabeth Scholar Madison Bradt, 20, who has been on a 10-month placement analyzing the dairy sector in Lilongwe, Malawi, since May.

Daniela Spagnuolo, 21, is completing a 10-month placement in Georgetown City, Guyana, at Volunteer Youth Corps, where she works to expand youth employment opportunities.

“It’s exciting to be part of this big initiative,” she said of her QES award. “The international experience opportunities that the scholarship provides are important. As development students, we understand so much more when we’re in the context of the country we’re studying. It’s also a chance to understand how far different Commonwealth counties have come since independence.”

In addition to 40 IDS co-op scholarships, the CCDS will also provide 16 scholarships for short-term internships in Commonwealth countries of the Global South, open to all senior U of T students, and scholarships for two incoming graduate students from the Commonwealth’s Global South pursuing master’s degrees at the University of Toronto. This allows the CCDS to expand the range of experiential learning opportunities to students in other programs.

For Delorean Clark, 19, the scholarship is meaningful because it provides fiscal backing for IDS co-ops for years to come; she herself wouldn’t be able to participate in the program without financial assistance. In July, Clark started an 11-month placement as a youth entrepreneurship development advisor at the Jamaica Diaspora Institute in Kingston, Jamaica.

“It’s really important for the CCDS to provide placements to skilled students with financial barriers,” she said.

In July, Jazba Singh, 21, began her 10-month placement as marketing and development coordinator at Swaziland Fair Trade (SWIFT) in Swaziland. Singh intends to pursue a career in corporate social responsibility, and believes this experience will equip her with the professional skill sets to succeed.

“This scholarship allows me to create a lasting impact at home and abroad,” she said. “It allows me to broaden my horizons and honours me with the title and responsibility of a global citizen.”


© University of Toronto Scarborough