Meet the 2021-2022 National Scholars

We are pleased to announce and welcome these outstanding students as our 2021-2022 cohort of National Scholars.

Grace Attalla

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering
Major: Biomedical Engineering

Grace Attalla has a passion for understanding the people around her. She was drawn to U of T’s Engineering Science program for its unique emphasis on scientific theory. Fascinated by the intersection of technology and the brain, she plans to pursue a biomedical major. Entrepreneurship is also a focus: Attalla founded the non-profit Joy to Job, which connects students with professionals in careers they are interested in. The BMO National Scholarship has already helped her toward her goal: creating a biotech company that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. “I was able to pursue my dream summer job of working in a lab focusing on therapy for people with spinal cord injuries, despite it not being the most high paying option,” she says. “You have opened up doors on all fronts.”

Kyra Coutain

Victoria College
Major: Health and Disease

Life Sciences student Kyra Coutain has attended summer medical programs, shadowed surgeons virtually, and obtained certification in naloxone and first aid to help her work with populations experiencing homelessness and struggling with opioid addiction. She also shares her stories with generational addiction, sexual assault, and racism through spoken word, slam poetry, and illustration. “My proudest moment was presenting a scientific proposal for a drug that molecularly alters the current opioid structure to inhibit fatal symptoms such as respiratory depression,” she says. “By integrating art, activism, and real-life testimonies, I hope to illuminate the multidimensional lens in which we can view science and medicine. The BMO National Scholarship has solidified a path to my purpose. From the depths of my being, thank you.”

Voke Ewhrudjakpor

Woodsworth College
Major: Life Sciences

“Winning this scholarship has meant everything to my family and me,” says Voke Ewhrudjakpor. “I no longer have to worry about working and can solely focus on school and my athletics —which is a privilege and blessing.” Ewhrudjakpor competes in shot put and weight throw with the Varsity Blues track team and is on the executive of Black Doctors of Tomorrow. She chose U of T for its great global health program, with opportunities for research and studying abroad. Her goals: to get involved in immunology research, volunteer with underprivileged kids and newcomers to Canada, obtain a master’s degree in public health, and attend medical school. “One day I hope to work for NGOs that fight for health-care equity around the world,” she says. “I would also love to become an advocate for minorities in the health-care system.”

Jasmine Jenkinson

U of T Mississauga
Major: Theatre and Drama Studies

Jasmine Jenkinson is an actor, singer, dancer, and musician who has always had a strong passion for learning. She was drawn to the Theatre and Drama Studies specialist program at U of T Mississauga because it combines academic rigour with practical training. “I love the wide range of classes I am taking, from introductory psychology, to traditions of drama, to movement and voice,” she says. “I am being challenged both academically and creatively and cannot thank BMO enough for this incredible opportunity.” At U of T, Jenkinson has immersed herself in research opportunities and was a sound and lighting designer and assistant director for a play last semester. Her goal is to create original theatre pieces that spread messages about social justice and give a voice to the underrepresented.

Josh Karathra

Victoria College
Major: Commerce 

Business student Josh Karathra began his journey in social entrepreneurship during high school as part of the team at SpeechDojo, an EdTech nonprofit. He and his team have reached more than 20,000 youth across Canada, teaching public speaking skills through social media, scalable online courses, and classroom programming. Karathra sees social innovation thriving at the intersection between business, politics, and social issues. He hopes to help businesses innovate sustainably through technology and entrepreneurship. “The incredible BMO National Scholarship program has enabled me to fully pursue solutions to problems I see in my community,” he says. “I would love to continue giving back to the scholarship community throughout my career. Thank you, BMO, for supporting students like me.”

Molly Keenan

Victoria College
Major: Classics and English

“I was eager to be challenged,” says Molly Keenan, “and until I interviewed for the BMO National Scholarship I didn’t know where to find that challenge.” Now even as she majors in English and Classics at U of T, Keenan is also enjoying upper-year courses in Russian, Victorian literature, and Ancient Greek poetry. With plans to pursue graduate studies in comparative literature, she is also working on a thesis focused on The Brothers Karamazov and the Christian Trinity. Above all, Keenan considers fiction one of the greatest gifts that a human being can offer to the world. Her first novel, currently in progress, is a postmodern retelling of Paradise Lost by way of Salinger, Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, and John le Carré that narrates the fall of a close-knit, dysfunctional Toronto family.

Amy Mann

Victoria College
Major: Geophysics

Amy Mann chose the University of Toronto for its strong academic programs and world-class research —both will help her toward her goal of becoming an atmospheric physicist. While still in high school, she co-authored a published academic article on climate warming in the Arctic, and she speaks up for our planet as an environmental advocate. Mann is currently studying first-year physics at U of T. She is also enjoying several humanities courses, including Indigenous Studies, and has joined a club that aims to combat gendered violence on campus. “I hope to use my education to address the climate crisis through research and, most importantly, outreach,” she says. “I am really enjoying university so far—thank you to BMO for giving me the financial ability to pursue my passion and learn.”

Kyra Menezes

Victoria College
Major: Ethics, Society & Law and Psychology 

Kyra Menezes helped with research in economics at U of T even before becoming a student. Now that she’s here, she’s serving as a mentor with Humanities for Humanity, has joined the boxing club, and is planning a research project in behavioural economics and a summer volunteering on a farm in Northern Ontario. Menezes hopes that an understanding of the intersection of social justice, human rights, and behavioural patterns will help her toward her goal: becoming a human rights lawyer. “With a primary focus on women’s rights and gender-based violence,” she says, “I would like to help develop better local systems of support for women in conflict zones and rural communities. Ultimately, I hope to become a judge at the International Criminal Court to address sociopolitical issues that transcend borders.”

Ruhani Walia

Victoria College
Major: Financial Economics and Cognitive Science

“Thank you, BMO, for granting me the gift of being surrounded by ambitious changemakers and mentors at U of T,” says Ruhani Walia. Her own ambitions fly high: to use data for good, to understand human behaviour, and to develop sustainable solutions to global social issues. Her achievements include starting a project with the Nigerian Ministry of Health to distribute a life-saving drug and working as a student researcher with the Los Angeles Behavioral Economics Lab and with Canadian Undergraduates in Behavioural Science. She is also planning a U of T research thesis on how biometrics can inform economic theories about decision-making. “Thanks to BMO and U of T,” she says, “I have already learned so much about the scientific method and academic research process.”

William Yao

University College
Major: Computer Science

Computational social science —understanding social phenomena through computer modelling and analysis —is what excites William Yao. With ambitious goals to work at the intersection of business and technology, he chose U of T for its history of revolutionary research and opportunities to launch his own investigations. During high school, Yao received a first place international award at the DECA Case Competition for a proposal on a telemedicine platform. At U of T, he’s enjoying courses in computer science, economics, and policy. Yao also composes music and performs for community events and charitable causes. “Opening that scholarship letter is an unforgettable memory,” he says. “I intend to continue making all of us —the University, donors, and myself —proud of my work.”

Brooke Zarubin

Faculty of Music
Major: Performance–Voice Studies

With a lifelong passion for music and the arts, Brooke Zarubin pursues classical singing and musical theatre, and she has appeared in more than 20 community, school-based, and professional productions. Her belief that music sustains and restores the human spirit drives her aspiration to bring hope and healing through music. “One of the most rewarding things about the BMO National Scholarship,” she says, “is that it recognizes my dedication to and hard work in both academics and music. I sincerely thank BMO for supporting my dreams. When I wake up and get to go to music classes at U of T every day, I marvel at my good fortune and the amazing opportunity I’ve been given. Your support is more appreciated and impactful than I could ever put into words.”


We invite you to meet the National Scholars from other years: